30 September 2010

Steaming fences

This morning I saw the most beautiful images just waiting for me to capture them. However today is a day for wearing many different hats and I did not have the time for photography.

The weirdest phenomena happens in my garden ... if the morning starts cold, damp and misty as the sun breaks through the mist it starts to heat the water droplets on the fences; the fences then begin to steam. It is very odd. I tried to capture it but this does it no justice at all.

Also the bush at the end of my garden was covered in dew laden cobwebs and looked, in my opinion, just how a Christmas tree should look when covered in tinsel. Once again I was too late getting out with the camera and by the time I stood in front of it the magic had gone.

The steaming fences foretold a beautiful day. Friday there was torrential rain and I had hoped to go and photograph a building using the medium format camera borrowed from Uni but that was not going to happen - far too wet.

Saturday morning also started with steaming fences so I knew the day was going to be good and I was able to take the photographs I wanted. I also got a better photograph of the steaming fences.

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Alphabetty - Block

I continued to create the entire alphabet from the blocks I began whilst at the Induction Lecture. Here they are as a first scan from the paper they were drawn on. I shall work on those and put them in order, ensure they are all the same size and then start creating a phrase.

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Alphabetty - Milk

I was inspired to try creating an alphabet out of spilt liquid. My first attempts were not entirely satisfactory as I used the kitchen worktop and the camera needed to be on a tripod and I could not get the height I needed. The result I liked was this one:

Although this is not good enough I do think it has potential. I need to have the milk lower down so that I can get the camera properly above it, plus it needs a better background and one that will produce a 3D effect in the final cut. Also I think the phrase should be 'No point crying...' rather than 'No use crying...' 

But this was a good start and I will have another go over the weekend.

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Alphabetty - Cheesy Wotsit

Made a start on creating alphabets. Tried the Cheesy Wotsit idea.

I can see this might be fun - but I do not think the kitchen worktop is the right place to photograph this - but I wanted to see how effective it might be. I used the macro lens as I needed to get close. However thinking about the need for it to be printed off at A3 or bigger I thought about using the wide angle lens as well. I also used kitchen light and camera flash to try out different lighting situations.

I ended up eating 3 bags of cheesy wotsits which was not entirely unsatisfactory. I have 2 more bags to do a further experiment - perhaps change the phrase and also change the background. Watch this space.

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Staffs Uni Induction

Denied the lovely lunch - only biscuits available. Picked up some very useful tips about the library service and the amount of varied information online. Particularly the access to journals and research documents - I will definitely be making use of those once I have logged on.

The ceiling in the reception area outside the Lecture Theatre was very interesting. I couldn't resist snapping it as I had my compact Fuji with me.

Had time on the coach journey to read through the Sunday papers and to find out about various exhibitions and shows taking place. I am starting a list of 'galleries to visit' that I hope to see once I have sorted out my 'Young Persons' Railcard'. 

Whilst I was in the Lecture Theatre I was also thinking about the typography assignment we need to complete. I was thinking about how typefaces consist of negative spaces and how interesting those shapes are. I began doodling and started an alphabet that I am going to call 'Block'.

I will compete this alphabet and see how it looks when creating a word or phrase.

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Paying attention. 

The journey home.

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27 September 2010


First part of the Understanding Media module is to look at, research and discuss typography. The grande finale is to create my own typeface and create a words(s) using it.

My initial thought was to use cheesey wotsits to create a word or saying. I have only 3 weeks to do this and I appreciate it is all about getting us into the swing of producing work for the course. I am therefore not too worried about the finer details because if I get something wrong I will be guided in the correct direction.

My next thoughts were to find my sketchbook from my FMP - it seems to have gone missing. Chris is asking around to see if it has been misplaced. I also need to dig out one of my helvetica books out that I had published as I have done quite a bit of this work already - particularly discussing the why's, where's and how's of typography and in particular - helvetica. I have an understanding and appreciation of typography and so I will find this fun - I am looking forward to creating my own typeface. 

There are some very interesting example of typefaces that people have created. As my research progresses I shall add more to this label (media - typography).

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25 September 2010

Customer Services

Customer Service Departments can be relied on to make the easiest of tasks take on the dimensions of the challenges of Hercules. I think we are all to blame for this situation - we all demand lower and lower prices and companies have to squeeze somewhere. They will not squeeze at the point where they are trying to attract new customers so they will create a squeeze on dealing with the loyal one. After spending 20 minutes on hold after pressing 1, 5, 2, 1, from a bizarre array of intricate choices - I hung up. This is the cowards way out I know as I will have to go through it again. However it has been a salutary lesson. How am I going to deal with my customers? How will I handle their complaints? How will I handle their expectations? 

Gave a Voucher for a Portrait Sitting to the Macmillan Coffee Morning raffle yesterday. Thankfully a very photogenic lady, that I like, won the prize. I am looking forward to taking her portrait. 

Had more interest in my cards and notelets and have been asked to supply a quote for putting one of my favourite abstract images onto canvas.  

Young Persons' Railcard
I know, I know, I know I am not a 'young person' but there is a section in this for mature students in full-time education. If I pay my £26 I can get a third off rail travel. I have decided that I need to make the effort to get myself to galleries and exhibitions without relying on Uni to arrange/organise trips. My plan is to decide on a day each month when I will travel down to London.

East Midlands Parkway is approx 15 miles from home and takes me straight into London St Pancras in an hour and half. The railway station sits almost underneath the looming towers of Ratcliffe Power Station. It is a stunning position and I am hoping there will be an opportunity to photograph it. Perhaps even start a Power Station Project.

Had my Fuji compact camera in my bag and snapped this...

Now I just need to keep my eye on exhibitions lists and make sure I go. I plan to see things I don't necessarily like as well as things that really make me think "I have to see that". I need to develop my tastes and I can learn a lot from the things that I don't like as much as I can from the things that I am comfortable with.

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24 September 2010

"Slack of the Tide"

I heard a poem by Jen Hadfield called Daed-traa, with the phrase ... "I return to the rock pool at the slack of the tide" ... I think that is a beautiful line and it conjurs up some of my favourite photography. Some of the best collections of work seem to be coming back to an area, event, building, person, group, team again and again to see how time and tide changes it. Comparing and contrasting.

I found the poem...

23 September 2010


Have finally found the time to have a quick look through my holiday photographs. I have more than half a dozen panoramas to create which I shall do over the weekend.

A quick look through says there are quite a few with lots of promise. I notice that I have sensor marks on many of them - will have to do a sensor clean before I use camera again.

I will post images once I have them processed. At the moment I am printing off thumbnail sized images to be stuck into my 'Travel Journal'.

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Had a quick run down of how the year will pan out - all subject to change obviously. Will be given a handout once the photocopier is fixed this might mean I get a better handle on what will be happening and when. It looks like we might have a few sessions with the Year 2 students - this is fabulous because it means I can get a better idea of what is going to happen and have people to ask questions as they will have already experienced it. Many things that I can get involved in over the coming year - including:

There are so many interesting things in this list that I am almost jealous of myself. Terribly exciting opportunities.

Peter Durant
Peter Durant was a guest lecturer last year. I have dug out my notes to remind myself about him and the sort of things he talked about.

Re-reading through my notes I realise I enjoyed his talk and his attitude - and subsequently I have enjoyed seeing his images. I mentioned to a friend that PD was looking for an Assistant, they had a look at his website. The feedback I received was that they thought they were looking at my images. Perhaps PD and I have a  similar style, perhaps this is worth pursuing.

Bradford Media Museum
There is the chance to get funding from their annual awards pot (total of £20,000). 

Information and application form can be found here

This is where Simon Roberts got his funding from to produce 'We English'. The closing date for this is 1st October 2010.

I have revisited the list I prepared for my ideas for the FMP last March. I really fancy doing the landfills and scrapheaps project.

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22 September 2010


Our first task was to produce a contact sheet of 36 images on a subject we are happy talking about.

Great something to think about creatively. Need to think about the outcome and how it will look. It's going to be one sheet on a computer screen. This means the 36 images will need to work well together.

First idea - colours. Let the colours run from White to Black running through varying shades and colours along the way. Took 6 images and thought they looked ridiculous, flat and uninteresting.

Second idea - panoramas. Take 6, 6 photo panoramas and they will sit next to each other on the contact sheet. I like this idea as I love doing panoramas but I was not in a place with things that were inspiring me to take panoramas. I gave up on the idea.

Third idea - Helvetica. Time was tight as I was sharing a camera and had to be mindful of my colleague needing to take her images as well. For speed, ease and to do something with creative impact I decided helvetica would see me through.

We drove out to Curborough Hall Farm Craft Centre near Fradley as there were many shops signs there and I knew I would get a good harvet of Helvetica images.

I had forgotten how much I actually enjoyed doing this project for my FMP. However the output for these images was going to be entirely different to the books I had created. I would not be showing the images through a letter as I did in the book so I needed to get very close to the signs. To make them look uniform I would need to crop them square and put them onto a square contact sheet.

It was very comfortable to do this - perhaps it is even a fall back position - but it is a position that often produces some very interesting images.

Some of these images are nice images on their own. I particularly like the ones that are an extreme close up of a specific letter. The close up of the 'R' reminded me of a quote by Abbott Miller: "The capital R is the only part of Helvetrica that disturbs me. The odd bell-bottom curve of the leg reminds me of that photograph by Robert Mapplethorpe of a guy in a three-piece suit with his pants unzipped, exposing this huge curving penis. The R is both the penis and the three-piece suit all at once".

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The Summer Summed Up

At last it's here.
The start of the degree course.
First task was to photograph something that summed up what you had been doing over the summer. This was a lovely idea as it gave everyone the chance to think creatively and also it gave each of us the chance to introduce ourselves and to talk about our interests in photography.
My summer was all about setting up my business with help from Victoria at Apricot Management Consultants. I have been marketing myself, producing items for sale and taking on commissions. I opened a business bank account and to my delight and surprise there is actually money in the account.
I have realised that in order to make the business a success I am going to have to find a way to become quite selfish. Stopping when in the full swing of working to answer a question or pay the window cleaner or run the house is not good for me. I work best at odd times of the day and I actually need to work best when the house is empty. A plan in the back of my mind is to have an office/studio somewhere away from the house so I can concentrate - but that is a long-term plan.

This road marking summed up exactly how I feel about what I am doing. I have to be two different people; I have to have two different skill sets; I need to wear two different hats. I am fortunate in that I do not need to take a part-time job but like those that do need to work we all need to split ourselves.
I want this course to help me tighten up my skills and confidence with all equipment; help me be critical of my own work and that of others; show me doors where opportunities might lie; help build up networks; give me support and guidance.

During the morning session we were asked to go out with our phones and take some interesting shots. These are the ones I came back with:

I think I would like to revisit some of these with a proper camera. Although I think my phone camera is pretty good - the images would never stand up to being enlarged or used anywhere else.

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