Grainy sand damp crackling in seafire A sentinel shore chalkscrawled on lemon farls The slabbed tangle of shattered glass Unsought by flyblown faces of the gone Nearer the edge of wild air, of brightness here Sinking ever as blue dusk abandoned this night The flood flow from road to eely grike A tide, moondrawn, lay over the rocks Behind this light of Cassiopeia Endless signs on a white field The veil of space falls our souls the more, the more. DSC 02.21
Ink Stained and tangled seaweed Smouldering in seafire Broken on sentinel shore Halting hightide out in rushing rhythms Cottage smoke whispwrithes into a silverblack, lightless night Wild edge and wild air whip and froth Under a creeping moons midwatch And yet to go still against the cold pull There to weave and unweave shadowshoals And haul home through skerried squalls DSC 03.21
In London on a flying visit for a meeting, I just had time for a brief visit to Tate Britain. There I enjoyed a precious hour in the company of Van Gogh and an artist new to me, Frank Bowling. Both exhibitions, lessons in the sheer joy of colour.
Naturally, I had my camera and as I wandered the rooms in wonder I made a few images. Later, on the train northwards, I began to reflect on the fact that the images on my memory card were made from the art of others. (the image on the left was made at the Frank Bowling exhibition from multiple exposures of two of his paintings combined and then altered in Lightroom). This raises an interesting question about the ethics of using the art of others, in our work.
It is certainly true to say that no art is new – not really. The often quoted (indeed, mis-quoted and mis-attributed) words ‘good artists copy, great artists steal’ can be used in this discussion. (If you would like to read more about the possible origins and variations of this quote, please take a look at this discussion – https://quoteinvestigator.com/2013/03/06/artists-steal/ ).
What is the sense behind the quote? That all of us as creatives are influenced by those who have gone before us. (How many also talk of ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’?). From our earliest days we absorb so much from what we see, hear and read. We look at the work of artists we admire and, so often, either consciously or sub-consciously, this influences the work we create. I am not talking about plagiarism. That is theft, a malicious and intentional decision to take the work of someone else and pass it off as our own.
No, the idea behind ‘good artists copy, great artists steal’ relates to imitation verses inspiration. It is so much easier to imitate those we admire. It takes real effort to be inspired without merely imitating. This is because you recognise an idea in someones work – then put forth great effort to elevate, to add, to move it further in another direction – to make it into something else. Certainly, the influence may be felt – an echo of the informer, but it becomes something distinctly yours.
So, back to my original question – which in our field, working with a camera and perhaps making images which actually might include the work of others – is this not closer to plagiarism than influence – and certainly more like imitation? Hopefully, we aren’t making a straight image of another’s and passing it off as our own (or copying an image from a web page, for example, and then claiming it as ours – that is plagiarism. It does happen too – I can think of an example happening to a friend of mine).
However, in making images from the art of another where does the line of acceptance fall between it being too close to copying and it becoming a unique work of our own? Whether we include the brush strokes of a great and recognised artist as I have above – or perhaps we use some local graffiti? Do we work with mixed media, collaging elements from magazines and photographs? Could it be we photograph signs and graphics – all these things contain the ‘art’ of others.
There are no photography police (although plenty of people who try to set themselves up in this role). We have no book of rules to which we can refer. So it is down to us to individually set our own high standard of morals and ethics in this regard.
What is the point of copying the work of another, altering it a little and claiming it as our own? We may receive praise from those who don’t realise what we have done – but how do we feel when we look at ourselves in the mirror?
We each need to decide where the line in the sand is for us. Valda Bailey, uses a good illustration. She talks of musicians who ‘mash up’ the music of others to make new, original tracks. You can often pick up on a familiar beat, a recognisable rift or refrain – perhaps some repeated lyrics from an oft sung chorus – but the new artist has also gone to great lengths to significantly add to and alter the original to make something new. It is no longer the original. Perhaps this could be our guide? But only we can decide.
Maybe a good barometer would be to ask ourselves, how would we feel if our artwork was being used in the images of another? How changed would we want it to be before we felt its use was acceptable? Would we feel flattered by its use? Or offended?
This also leads to another, final point from me on this subject. When making images (or any kind of art) from that of others, is it not the right and decent thing to give fulsome attribution. To mention the fact openly and honestly? Why hide it? If you feel you should, then perhaps that is an indication that you haven’t changed the original source enough with work of your own? And we could ask ourself, wouldn’t we like someone who used our work to give us credit for our influence on them and for the part our work has played in the creation of theirs?
In this, should we not be treating the work, the reputation and the feelings of the source artists in the way we would like others to treat us? (and in saying this, I should perhaps acknowledge this is not an original thought of my own either, but can also be found at Matthew 7:12 – seems there is nothing new…)
Post Script. My personal response to the Van Gogh exhibition was to write a short, untitled, poem.
amidst crowds alone
in those echoing, hallowed halls
beneath Vincents starry canopy
who thru his fired look
revealed in me
an aching joy
surging from such swift simplicity
for in his pleading eyes
I saw, as he
the absolute ecstasy
of golden highs
and cerulean skies
an awakening there
to be free
and to walk again
the fields aflame
under pollarded willows and gain
mastery once more
over my shadows.
DSC August 2019
My new book – ‘Abstract Mindedness’ is available from the publishers, Kozu Books, for worldwide delivery now HERE
‘The times, they are a’changing’.
When Bob penned those lyrics, I’m not sure he realised how often they would be quoted, but as life continues its erratic trajectory, their pertinence endures.
They certainly apply today, as things are evolving at Bailey Chinnery and we want to tell you about some big changes to what we are doing, going forwards.
As most of you know, I have been ill for some time and over the year since we launched Bailey Chinnery, my health has impacted on tours more than once. Valda had to run the second of two one day workshops in Bosham alone last summer and I was unable to lead a tour to Venice in December after my Mum died. A few weeks ago, once again, I reluctantly had to withdraw from our tour to the Hebrides, causing much inconvenience.
I don’t want this to continue. Our service to our clients is extremely important to us and while I am much better than I was twelve months ago, I feel I need to get fully well, so the unpredictability of my condition doesn’t continue to cause issues.
Therefore, I have made the very difficult decision to take a sabbatical from teaching until November. This means I won’t be co-leading the upcoming tours to Bilbao, Giverny and the Faroes with Valda. Those clients affected have been informed privately. We are delighted and enormously appreciative that our great friend and accomplished photographer, Terry Gibbins, has agreed to stand in for me.
I will just co-lead with Valda our print workshops in Sheffield in June which are only 30 minutes from my home.
I plan to return to teaching for our Creative Growth tour to the Cairngorms in November and co-lead our Venice tour in December.
There will also be a slight restructuring at Bailey Chinnery in the foreseeable future. As things stand, the workload is intense and unsustainable in its present form (for either of us) for very much longer. As a consequence of my illness, I have realised I need to spend less time away from home. So from 2020, I plan to co-lead with Valda just two or three overseas tours a year. I will reassess this decision if and when I feel the time is right. We will continue to run our one day UK workshops together and have plans to run more print workshops.
However, this doesn’t mean that the number of tours Bailey Chinnery runs will be reducing. We are delighted that Valda will continue to lead an exciting tour schedule with two new guest leaders – Terry Gibbins and Denis Hocking.
We have invited them to join us because both of them bring something special to what we offer. They have great people and teaching skills. They are brilliant photographers in their own right and they both think about photography in a way that chimes with our own philosophy. Each are also highly skilled landscape and travel photographers. This means that for those of you who would like it, they will be happy to take you out for sunrise on location when conditions are suitable (and those who prefer our more usual relaxing start to the day can enjoy a lie in and then a more leisurely breakfast with Valda until they return).
We have some incredible new destinations in the planning for you, including some long haul places for ‘trips of a lifetime’. We see this new development as a major step forward in giving you, our friends, the very best creative experience we can. However – and we cannot stress this enough – we remain totally committed to creative thinking, pursuing your own vision and avoiding tripod holes and clichés at all costs. And of course, we will always make sure your comfort, hydration and nutritional needs are always very well catered for.
Meanwhile, although I won’t be traveling with you as frequently, I will still be fully involved in all we do. I will be taking on the majority of the administration of the business, so it will be me sending you emails, chasing you and being a general nuisance. We will also be developing our growing print business which is proving very popular, and we are releasing many new videos to add to the collection we have available on our website. The next set will be all about printing. It will be a busy year for us both.
Another consequence – and a very difficult decision for me, has been the cancellation of my London exhibition at the Menier gallery. It was a huge project involving the printing and framing of over 70 images, not to mention the logistics involved in organising the private view and the minutiae of holding an exhibition.
I found myself getting overwhelmed with the whole task to the point that it was having a very detrimental effect on my mental health. I feel guilty letting down Young Minds (the charity to whom I was donating all of the profits). I have obviously apologised to them and explained that in order to fulfil all of my other obligations in life and remain well enough to function, I felt I had little choice but to withdraw.
As we clock up our first year in business, Valda and I would like to thank you all for being such amazing and supportive clients. We could not do what we do without you and your enthusiasm, ideas and kind encouragement. Your continued loyalty and friendship means more to us than we can say.
Love Doug and Valda
Using the Canon EOS R Mirrorless Camera for Multiple Exposure & ICM Photography
The new Canon EOS R full frame mirrorless camera system was released recently with much fanfare. Valda and I were immediately keen to get our hands on one and Rob Cook at Canon UK very kindly provided us with loan bodies, lenses and adaptors to give us that chance. (I made all of the images in this article on one day with the EOS R).
Our hectic lives, as usual, meant that time with the camera was frustratingly limited, but over the few weeks we had them we did manage to clock up several hours of use. Enough to put them through their paces and get a real feel of how this system performs for those of us that are working with the creative use of multiple exposures and intentional camera movement (ICM).
If you also use your camera for more conventional image making, this blog, while not concentrating on those areas (you will find hundreds of others out there that do) should also give you a feel for its potential.
Firstly, I’ll deal with some of the fundamentals around your possible reasons for switching to this new system.
1. Saving weight – mirrorless cameras tend to be lighter (and less bulky) than DSLR’s. The ‘R’ is no exception. It is, roughly, 30% lighter than a 5D mk4, for example. If you use a Fuji or Olympus, it is heavier, but it has more the feel and build quality of a DSLR, along with the high quality weather and dust sealing of pro Canon DSLR’s. For those who found the Fuji’s and Olympus systems too small and fiddly in the hand, you shouldn’t find this an issue with the ‘R’. The 24-105mm f/4 lens is a high quality L glass lens so it adds weight. Noticeably so, but it is also very versatile with 4 stops of image stabilisation and very sharp results (if sharpness is your thing). The 35mm lens (which is also a macro) is far lighter. I haven’t tried the 50mm. The EF adaptor which allows you to use all your EF lenses with all functions (auto focus, metering etc) weigh very little. I tried using my EF 70-300mm L lens and found it well balanced and very comfortable. The weight added depends on the lens, obviously.
2. The electronic viewfinder (EVF) is a revelation. It is fast, responsive and very sharp. I found I soon forgot I was using an EVF. For the multiple exposure image maker, the EVF is a real gamechanger over other Canon DSLR’S that have the blending modes. This is because as you make each frame you can see the next one overlaying the previous in the viewfinder. This allows precise lining up of frames. The effect of the blend mode is not shown until after you fire the shutter (but you do get to see that through the EVF which is especially good in bright light when viewing the live view screen is difficult. The overlay of the image is subtle but good enough to position things carefully. For me this is a major reason to switch to this new camera, the benefit is so significant.
3. The EF Adaptor with built in variable ND filter. ( https://www.canon.co.uk/mount-adapters-ef-eos-r/ ) This is the other game changer for me and a really innovative idea from Canon. The adaptor not only allows us to use our EF or EFs lenses on the EOS R, but it also has a slot in it, into which fits a beautifully designed two to nine stop variable neutral density filter. The strength of the neutral density effect is applied by rotating a small wheel on the filter holder. This innovation is perfect for those of us who love ICM and ME photography. It obviates the need for a Lee Filter system hanging off the end of the lens, or having to screw filters onto the end of the lens. It is so much neater, compact and is permanently available. These adaptors will be available in the UK from February 2019. (there is also a polariser and UV filter which can be purchased to slot into the adaptor – only one filter can be used at a time). The above link will show you just how beautifully designed this option is.
4. The tilt and swivel touch screen. A more minor benefit to me, but a benefit nonetheless. The screen tilts and swivels. This is very useful for low and high level images. It also means the screen can be completely rotated when the camera is not in use so it is facing the camera and not exposed and thus prone to being scratched. Additionally, the screen is touch sensitive. This means lots of things can be adjusted by touch instead of scrolling through menus with wheels and switches. You can also touch focus and even fire the shutter by touch on the screen if you wish. I particularly found making major changes to white balance much faster by touch than using the scroll wheel as on my 5D mk4.
There is an issue with the camera that has been much debated since its release. It has only one SD card slot. Many people have flown into a rage about this. For the sake of balance I would just throw a few points out there. Yes, I agree, it should have had a second slot. It would allow backing up images while shooting (or shooting alternative formats to each card etc). I am sure the next model will have a second slot. However, I think the outrage is overdone. Firstly, many people I have worked with often don’t have a card in the second slot. Those that have often have no idea how their camera is set up to use the second card – whether it is backing up the first, or writing jpegs, or perhaps filling one card then the other. There is also the fact that it is also only relatively recently that cameras have had two slots. We managed quite well with one for years prior to that and I have to say in all my years of using digital cameras, I have only ever had one card failure. So yes, it should have two card slots, I wish it did, but it’s not going to stop me owning the camera.
Let’s talk now about usability. The first thing I found was using the ‘R’ slowed me down. I guess we all get a certain amount of ‘muscle memory’ in using a particular camera model. When we switch to a new one it takes a while to adjust to the new button positions, menu layouts and just the general feel of the camera. Everything on our old camera is set up just the way we like it for the way we use it. It takes a while to get the new camera set up just so. I found this quite irritating at first, I longed to go back to the mk4. However, after a few hours, the familiarity with the ‘R’ started to build and I was able to focus less on operating the camera and more on making images.
The camera has a ‘multi-function bar’ which is operated by sliding your finger along it or tapping each end. It has the potential to be a useful control, but if I am honest, I found it lacked responsiveness. I couldn’t get it to work in a consistent way. This led to me being frustrated with it and I very quickly deactivated it. It would be difficult, if not impossible to use wearing gloves. I am sure some will get the hang of it quickly and really love it. I, however, am not a fan, sorry Canon.
A new innovation which is useful, is an additional ring on the ‘R’ Lenses (and fitted to one of the EF adaptors to add the function to all of our older EF lenses). So you now have three on a zoom lens, the focus and zoom rings plus a third which can be programmed to alter several settings according to your preference. (On a prime lens you have two, a focus ring and the new one). You can set the new ring to change aperture, shutter speed, ISO, exposure compensation etc. I set mine for ISO. I just found I had to take care when the camera was to my eye and I was, say, changing the focal length, that I didn’t hold the wrong ring by mistake and inadvertently find my ISO 3200 without noticing. The surface texture of each ring is different to help and if you prefer not to use it, the rings function can be deactivated.
Many have asked me what is it like using EF lenses with the new body? I tried it with my EF 70-300 IS L and the EF adaptor. The first thing to say is, yes, it is heavier – naturally. ‘L’ lenses, because of their build quality are weighty. But you are still saving the 30% of weight over an average DSLR. I found the balance was good, supporting the lens with my left hand as I would with a DSLR. This camera is not as small and light as, say, a Fuji XT-3, but I prefer the size. It fits my hands better, the buttons and dials are spaced and placed in a more ergonomical way and suit my hands. I like the grip design and balance, and I am speaking as someone who absolutely loved my Fuji cameras so I don’t say this lightly.
If you are looking to make the camera into a very lightweight system, I would seriously consider some of Canons lighter, mid-priced EF lenses, which are cheaper and will save a great deal of weight over the ‘L’ lenses. Yes, some image quality will be sacrificed, but they are still excellent for classic photography and for multiple exposures and ICM images the quality of the lens is fairly irrelevant. Take Canons lowest price, lightest 50mm f/1.8 lens for example, which is available for a little over £50. It weighs almost nothing and is ideal for ME and ICM.
To use the camera for multiple exposure images, I found the fastest way to access all the menus I needed – the ME menu itself, ISO and White balance primarily – was to add them all to a custom menu. I was then able to access this with one button push and go into whatever setting I needed. Very quickly I was using the camera instinctively and concentrating on image making, as I mentioned earlier.
Some of you may be thinking about waiting for the next iteration of the ‘R’ before investing, perhaps wanting a higher resolution sensor, for example. If you are a multiple exposure image maker I would add a word of caution. Making multiple exposures on the 50mp 5Dr is a very slow process compared to the 5D mk4 (which has the same sensor as the EOS R – 30mp approx). It seems combining several 50mp files takes its toll on the processing power of the camera. If the next ‘R’ has an upgraded sensor (and it seems logical the sensor from the 5Dr could be slotted in without too much trouble) then, unless Canon really beef up the processing power, the camera will be much slower for us ME photographers. It will be fine for classic image makers, but not for us. I have taken the decision not to upgrade to the 5Dr for just this reason, the slowness of it would hamper my creativity and the extra 20mp are simply not worth it for me.
As for image quality, it is breath-taking. All the images in this article are made with it. The sensor is a tried and tested full frame 30mp sensor from Canons 5D mk4. This has fabulous resolution, with superb colour and contrast. The camera is fast and reliable. The raw files are full of detail and can be cropped and manipulated to your hearts content. The prints from the files are glorious. You will have no quality issues from this camera as regards images – unless you are some anal pixel peeping geek who is more interested in discussing the micro contrast in the shadows on relentlessly boring internet forums and barrel distortion tables on mindlessly obscure websites than in actually going out and making images. But that applies to most cameras these days – let’s face it, they are all pretty amazing. If I need to remind myself of this fact, I go back and look at images from my first 4mp digital camera. Case closed.
In conclusion, while I found it took me a few hours of using the camera intensively to get used to it and I had to customise the menus and controls to suit my way of working, I soon found it a very natural tool that felt comfortable in the hand and didn’t get in the way of my creativity. This is exactly what I want from a camera. I don’t really want to have to think to much about the camera at all, I want to think about the image. If I am having to fuss about too much with my equipment, if the gear is getting in my way or irritating me then I am using the wrong gear.
So once I was over the hurdle of unfamiliarity, and I was able to seriously concentrate on making images, I was able to enjoy the advantages that the EOS R has for me as a multiple exposure and ICM photographer. Being able to use the EVF to line up ME compositions was a dream and a major step forward in our genre of image making. Being able to see the blended image in the EVF straight after each frame is made was also hugely beneficial, not only in bright sunlight but in all conditions.
While I couldn’t try out the new EF adaptor with the variable ND filter, I have no doubts this will be a game changer for me. I am itching to get my hands on one in February when they arrive in the UK. I am expecting demand to be huge.
The weight and size saving is nice to have, but not a game changer for me. It will certainly help me as someone who travels the world constantly – but I am more interested in functions and usability than weight.
The big question, will I be changing to the EOS R as my system of choice? The answer? Yes, if I can. My big frustration is I bought a brand new 5D mk4 only a few weeks before the EOS R was released. I don’t think I can afford to lose what I have invested in the new body by trading it in so soon for the ‘R’. This breaks my heart but as a professional running a business I have to be pragmatic. These are tools of the trade for us and have to earn their keep. It might seem as though pros always have nice gear – and we most often do – but we have to work very hard to afford it and most of us can’t just keep jumping from one body to the next without thinking about the financial implications. So I may have to wait awhile before I can justify it. However, if you are able to afford it, I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending this very excellent new system to you. It is superb.
Now, a few final thoughts from Valda –
We decided to wait to put out this review until I had returned from Venice. When we led the three one-day EOS R Discovery Day workshops in London recently we had more people than cameras and it was me who drew the short straw and didn’t really get to use it.
I took one of the loan bodies to Venice recently – unfortunately once again, my time with it was limited. Partly because I was teaching but partly because there were no shortage of clients in the group wanting to try it out for themselves. It really has generated an enormous amount of interest.
I’m not sure I can add anything more to Doug’s lengthy and comprehensive review. I actually found the multi-function bar very useful for changing white balance but really couldn’t get to grips with the function ring on the front of the lens – I found myself grappling with the wrong wheel. Of course its use would no doubt become second nature after shooting with it for a lengthy period.
Like Doug, I found the newness of the camera got in the way of my creativity, but this cannot obviously be blamed on the equipment. Within an hour or so, it was all becoming very much easier. I love the EVF – the best I have ever used – and the overlay feature during multiple exposure made the building up of layers a lot more fun.
There was a slight hiccup when it appeared that the autofocus wasn’t working. Such is the complexity of modern cameras, it took me about four hours to realise that the last client had enabled the back button focus, thus disabling the button I usually use. Again, not the camera’s fault at all, but half a day lost in trying to figure out what might be the problem.
I too, have only recently invested in the 5D4 so I won’t be changing any time soon I don’t travel with a lot of gear anyway, so the weight issue is not a hindrance to me. I am very excited about the adaptor with the slot for a drop-in ND filter – I don’t get on well with accessories and other extraneous bits and bobs that can be sat on, broken, lost, smeared or cracked. So for me, the more streamlined the kit, the better.
My technical knowledge only extends as far as I need it to in order that I can make my images so I’m really not in a position to predict how this camera stacks up against the competition. However in terms of usability, and for what I would use it for, I think it is certainly a winner.
I had the chance this week to briefly test the brand new Canon EOS R mirrorless camera with the 24-105mm lens (and the EF adaptor along with my EF 70-300mm IS L lens). This was courtesy of my good friend Carl, who had pre-ordered the camera and was prepared to entrust it to me.
My reasons for wanting to try it revolved around the weight saving of a mirrorless body and the advantages of having an electronic viewfinder for multiple exposure photography (EVF). I have been, in the past an advocate of the Fuji mirrorless systems – both the X and GFX medium format body – loving the weight saving and EVF as well as the image quality. However, the lack of a serious multiple exposure mode coupled with having to carry two systems in order to have a proper ME system meant I recently abandoned Fuji for good and dedicated myself to Canon. As someone who travels a great deal I need one system that does all everything and so I currently use the superb 5D mk4 and only have one lens, the 70-300mm L.
Before I go further, some clarification. I am not sponsored by Canon. This review is entirely impartial. I will aim to tell it exactly as it is. It is based on just a couple of hours at most with the camera, using the 24-105mm R lens and barely 15 minutes with my 70-300mm lens and the EF adaptor. All of this time I was working in multiple exposure mode, so please don’t expect a review of using the camera for classic photography.
I would also add that I am not interested in this camera for shooting video. I may shoot some, but I am an art photographer and this review is written from that perspective. I am sure other reviews will guide you if you have interests in serious video work.
My final plea concerned the images – I was working quickly and just experimenting around my home – they aren’t meant to be serious work, just samples of the camera in action. Please don’t be too hard on me!
I am also aware of the near apoplectic rage there seems to be that the camera only has one SD card slot. My feelings about this? Yes, I would have liked two card slots (both SD, for me please Canon). But I do think we need some perspective. Yes, two slots has become the norm in cameras of this quality and I am sure the next iteration of this body will have them. If it is that big an issue for you I would just suggest waiting. However, in my experience, most photographers don’t know how their second slot is utilised – whether it is having a backup copy written to it, or if one card fills and then the second card fills – or if one card has raw files writing to it and the second has jpegs writing to it. Many cameras I have seen clients using don’t even have a card in the second slot. I have been using digital cameras for, I don’t know, 12 or 14 years and I have only had a card totally fail once in all that time. Once. I buy quality cards and I push my cameras hard in all weathers – I don’t wrap them in cotton wool (or polythene). Its not so long ago all cameras only had one card and prior to that, one roll of film. We managed somehow. My feeling is that the outrage is just a little over done – and I know that me just saying this will outrage some people. But I am just being honest (but please Canon – get another card slot in ASAP, I am pretty certain your design guys can make one fit).
Now that is death with let us get down to the nitty gritty. My first impressions about the camera. The build quality is excellent, as you would expect from Canon. I have big hands but ergonomically it is very comfortable in the hand. The balance is good and I liked the shaped grip. I work with one hand a lot of the time and this suited me well. I was surprised at how light it felt, even with the quality lens fitted. The EF adaptor is ridiculously light – this is because it is, in effect, just an extension tube. There is no glass in it. It just moves the EF lenses further away from the sensor and links up the electronics. So all of the lens functions still work as normal and everything still works in the EVF – you notice no difference in operating the camera. Even with a big lens like the 70-300mm attached it felt well balanced and lighter, obviously, than my 5D mk4. The weight saving is not huge but it is noticeable but it is also physically smaller so when travelling it takes up less bag space and it is less obtrusive in the hand, attracting less attention. Yes, using your L EF glass brings the weight right up, but you have the quality of the glass and it will be lighter than your DSLR. For some of you the weight saving while using your DSLR lenses will not be enough – but the R lenses are L glass quality and lighter. Canon will widen the range quite rapidly. I am happy to use the 24-105 for now along with my L 70-300 and the adaptor and cope with the weight – while benefitting from the physical size decrease (and it is lighter – noticeably so) while I wait for a lighter 70-300 R lens to be released.You will need to decide for yourself what you can cope with.
The 24-105mm lens was superb – the optics were brilliant as you would expect from Canon L glass. The image stabilisation was faultless as was the auto focus. Don’t ask me about frames per second and whether this would be a good camera for shooting wildlife on the Serengeti – that is above my pay grade. I am sure other blogs will help you with those questions.
What does the EOS R have to offer us as respects multiple exposure modes? This was a question we were really interested in. The answer is, it has all of the modes and functions of the 5D mk’s 3 and 4 (and other fully featured Canon DSLR’s). You will not lose anything by switching. But will you gain anything? The answer, I feel, is ‘yes’, which is why I would like to move to the ‘R’ myself.
Firstly, I want the size and weight saving. I am a traveller and I am always looking for savings in this area as long as functionality is not compromised. The EOS R gives me this. It has the same 30mp sensor as my current 5D mk4 so image quality is identical. I am guessing the next iteration of the body will have an ‘improved’ sensor but with this I give a warning. Valda had the 5Dr for some time which has the amazing 50mp sensor. Now, while this produces eye watering quality and huge files it brings with it a big issue to multiple exposure photographers. It becomes painfully slow. Stacking up several 50mp files and blending them in camera takes huge processing power and time. Valda found this really slowed her down in the field and, to an extent stifled her creativity so she switched ‘down’ to the 5D mk4 and is happier as a result. You may not find this to be an issue but we certainly did – so unless new bodies have significantly more processing power and speed, we would be reluctant to move to them. We have never had an issue as professionals with the 30mp files with our clients and galleries. The 30mp files for us still allow image cropping and manipulation to meet our needs. You need to decide what your needs are.
The second, and for me game changing improvement for multiple exposure work with the EOS R, is the EVF. This allows you to see the image ‘shadowed’ as you make each frame. You can’t see the effect of the blend mode being applied before you fire the shutter (but you do see, in the EVF the blended image after the next frame is added) however the big advantage is being able to line objects up. This helps hugely with composition. The next frame you see shadowed in the EVF is ‘brighter’ and so you need to look closely but it is sufficient to do what you need to do. The EVF also works seamlessly, I was not conscious it was an EVF, to be honest, it didn’t interfere it only assisted me. I like to have the camera to my eye when making ME images and previously I had to visualise in my mind where objects would be. You could use the live view screen, but this slowed the process down and meant holding the camera away at arms length which I found didn’t suit my way of working. I was blown away by the difference using the EVF made to my workflow. I am now finding using my 5D mk4 very frustrating indeed. I have opened Pandoras Box!
I have heard people expressing concerns about the controls on the camera – that there is only one control dial and so on. This is not the case. You have two control wheels so you can change aperture and shutter speed independently (or exposure compensation). The touch screen is a delight (but would be tricky with gloves in cold weather) However everything can be accessed through the quick menu and control buttons (no joystick on this camera) There is a slider bar which I didn’t have time to get to grips with.
The tilt screen also swivels – which would be a first for a camera I own. Exciting for me. Little things please me. I am also delighted to see Canon have used the same battery for the ‘R’ as used in the 5D range. This means all of the spare batteries I have acquired over the years will fit. How good to see a manufacturer doing this when so many use the release of a new model to change the battery shape in order to force us to buy more new batteries at exorbitant prices.
Another innovation which is interesting and useful is the addition of an extra ring on the R lenses. This ring can be programmed in a menu so that you can use it to change shutter speed, ISO or aperture – whichever is most useful to you. I didn’t get time to check, but it wouldn’t surprise me if you could program it to change something else too, if you prefer, like white balance etc. This may be very handy for working in cold weather or to save you accessing a menu for something you alter frequently.
My final comment is about the another adaptor Canon has issued. It is a very clever piece of kit, sitting between the body and lens into which you can drop either a polariser or a variety-ND filter so that these do not have to be fitted to the front of the lens. For me, this is a revelation. It is such a simple solution, so small and compact and will allow me to do ICM images with such ease. The ND filter goes from 2 to 9 stops – which is absolutely perfect for me. A stroke of genius from Canon and one I will definitely be adding to my kit bag.
So my verdict. For multiple exposure and ICM shooters, I think this camera is a game changer. I see no reason to stay with a DSLR any more. You can keep all of your EF lenses and slowly replace them if you with with R lenses – or not – the choice is yours. I see no real deal breaking disadvantages with the camera. I think if you have any other brand of mirrorless camera such as Fuji and you have a passion for multiple exposure photography, I would seriously consider switching. It is a big thing to do, but I don’t think you will be disappointed. This is a seriously good camera that for me and my work ticks all the boxes (just get a second card slot in the next one, please, Canon…. and maybe come up with some more, new, innovative blend modes that we can see being applied live in the viewfinder before we press the shutter – then you really do have something amazing).
Valda and I are running some one day workshops in November where every participant has a loan EOS R for the day courtesy of Canon UK – you can read full details and BOOK HERE
I am delighted (and very apprehensive) to announce that I will be publishing the first book of my work in early 2019, with the help and support of my very good friend Greg at Kozu books. We will making pre-orders available on the 1st of December. I have plans for some very special editions for collectors, along with more basic editions for those wanting just the book.
In conjunction with this I am also announcing today that I will be holding my first major solo exhibition in London. This will be at the beautiful Menier Gallery close to Tate Modern and The Shard running from the 17th to the 22nd June 2019. Apart from being a perfect space to exhibit, I chose this location because 100% of the profits of the gallery go to support the Paintings in Hospitals charity, which does excellent work in helping both patients and staff in many ways through artistic growth and expression.
The title of the book and exhibition is ‘Abstract Mindedness’. I have chosen this to tie in with the project it will be featuring. As many of you know I experienced a nervous breakdown in early 2018 and am still only partly recovered. I decided some months ago to see how the illness affected my work and so set about a project which will last 12 months, from around the time of the breakdown until just before publication. It will also include some of the words I am writing to accompany the images through the year. It might sound like a bleak subject for a project and you might expect all of the work to be dark and morose – but I am interested already that, despite what you might think, I am not necessarily making gloomy images when I am deeply depressed and sunny cheerful images when I feel brighter. Such stereotypical results are not coming through – which ties in with this not being the stereotypical illness that many people perceive it to be.
I am half way through the project. Some of the work is selected but much has yet to be made and it is both exciting and little atychiphobic to think of this (yes, I had to look that up). Most exhibitions and books are announced when the work is made – the images sure and definite. I hope what I do between now and the end is worthy. If not, I am in big trouble.
I also wanted to mark a year on from the breakdown and help others suffering similarly, especially young people coping with mental illness, and so 100% of the profits from the book and the exhibition will be going to support the Young Minds charity.
In addition to this, in an effort to raise more money for them, and to mark the fact I have lost over six stone in weight (and hope to have lost more by next spring), I am going to do a sponsored walk up Snowdon in North Wales. I thought, due to my weight and health I would never see the top of a mountain again, but now I have the chance. So on 30th April 2019, I will be making my big ascent. If you would like to join me, you are most welcome, especially if you have donated to Young Minds via the Just Giving page I have set up which sends the money directly to the charity. If you are a tax payer and tick the Gift Aid box, the government will add another 20% to whatever you give at no cost to you – which would be really great. You can find my Just Giving page HERE. I would like to thank all of you who sponsor me in advance. I love you forever and really appreciate it.
A final plea, (and I am being a bit cheeky with this), but I want as much money to go to the charity as possible and I have my usual reticence about my work selling. The hire of the London gallery is rather expensive so it would be wonderful if any companies or individuals might like to sponsor the show as a way of reducing the outlay – either by providing products or by a small donation. Anything at all would be much appreciated and help me towards my goals, but I will cover anything that I can’t raise. If you would, please EMAIL ME. I also would also really appreciate it if you could share and retweet my posts about the book, exhibition and walk – I will try not to make them too frequent or repetitive – but it is shares and retweets rather than likes which are most helpful to a cause like this – again, I will notice every one and love you always. I may also be on the prowl for help with invigilators, waiters and waitresses on the private view evening (to which you are all invited, naturally) and so on.
The private view will be on Tuesday 18th between 6 and 8pm’ish. There will, naturally, be sustenance and liquid refreshment for hungry and thirsty photographers and art lovers. More of which later.
The spring of 2019 is going to be a important for me in hopefully completing these projects, helping to raise awareness of the issues of mental health, helping others with mental health problems and perhaps giving me an opportunity to move further away from the worst effects this illness has had on me. It is giving me a focus at least. I already have many people who have been quietly supporting and helping me confidentially with the early stage planning. I couldn’t have got to even this point without them. Greg at Kozu books has been supportive, patient and a driving force behind the book. He is going to allow me to blog about the whole process of making the book, in case you are interested. Maria and Chris at Tan-y-Foel in Betws-y-Coed, quite simply the finest bed and breakfast in North Wales (don’t stay anywhere else please – it is a haven of peace, with the added bonus of Pip, the loveliest of dogs, and the ‘loo with a view’) – they have been so kind and helpful with the early planning for the ‘Big Walk’. My very best of friends, Terry, Valda & Bill, who have stuck with me when I have been at my lowest, bleakest worst. Who have listened, cajoled, encouraged (and dragged) me through this awful year. I am forever indebted to them and will never be able to repay them. And finally Chris Friel, who has, despite his own tragedies, been a good friend and empathetic ear throughout the darkness – his suffering makes mine pale into absolute insignificance and yet he still understands, offers support and friendship.
I am in debt to them all.
Some things in life only come along once. The genius of Bob Dylan. Newcastle United winning something (still waiting). My mother in law being lost for words. (also still waiting). A phone call from Toby, the very nice boss at Fotospeed asking if I might possibly be interested in working with them to design my very own perfect ‘signature’ fine art paper. (actually happened – still pinching myself).
That call came almost two years ago now – making a new paper from scratch is not a quick process and it took me almost a nano second to accept the offer. Which photographer and printer wouldn’t? Here was a chance to work along with acknowledged experts in the field to come up with what is essentially my very own perfect paper for my art. A dream come true, because I had used many of the fine Fotospeed papers quite happily for years and loved them, but always there are those little tweaks I would like to make – a little more texture, a little whiter base, a little more weight and so on. Now I had my chance.
So how does it work, this paper designing business? Sadly, all visions I had of me donning a lab coat and goggles were soon put to bed. I wasn’t going to be allowed anywhere near chemicals, or big machines. I think the very nice folk at Fotospeed felt that was just a little too risky, especially when they saw the manic glint in my eyes. Rather, I was sat down in a darkened room, behind layers of security and…. well no, not that either. In fact, it all began with a very long and detailed cross examination about what I wanted from my paper. I was quizzed on my images, what I wanted to bring out of them, their characteristics, what I felt was missing from not only the Fotospeed range but also from fine art papers in general. I was basically asked what my dream paper would be. So what did my specification look like?
I had a vision along these lines;
1. It had to be a matt paper.
2. It had to be heavy. I wanted a paper with substance.
3. I wanted a heavy texture.
4. I preferred a pure white base colour. So that colours were rendered naturally.
5. I wanted it to make soft, gentle images to look soft and gentle.
6. When printing images full of texture and detail it needed to render them sharply.
8. I wanted it to have a high cotton content and to be of archival quality.
9. It needed to be acid free and be suitable for dye based and pigment inks.
10. I really wanted it to handle a very wide colour gamut and produce faithful colours.
11. Finally, for a matt paper it had to deliver sumptuous deep, rich blacks.
By this point, the nice people at Fotospeed were looking a little queasy. I understood why. To ask all of this from one paper, especially a high cotton content matt paper was a very tall order. They were in for a long night. It turned out to be a long year. I think they ate a lot of pizza and drank a lot of coffee.
I actually lost count of the iterations we went through, but I was sent, I think, seven batches of paper to test in all. It was the seventh – the paper which has now become the paper I use almost exclusively, Cotton Etching 305 – which I finally gave the approval for to bear my name. The one which met all of the criteria on my list. The only thing in the end I wanted to change, and where Toby had to call a halt, was with the surface texture. If you look very carefully at matt papers you will see a repetition in the texture. This is because it is made by a mechanical process. I asked if this could be randomised. Apparently it could. If the paper was handmade. As you can imagine this would have made it so expensive it wouldn’t have viable and so I had to concede on that one point (and I have to admit I was being very fussy as it is barely noticeable).
I have to applaud the team at Fotospeed and the people they work with for being able to achieve this. Technically it really is no mean feat. If you are used to printing on fine art matt papers you will know and understand just how tricky they can be at times. How occasionally getting the colours to sing can be difficult. You will also know how hard it can be to get really wonderful rich deep blacks from them is. They can have a tendency to ‘flatten’ our work and give it a milkiness, to almost suck some of the life out of it if we don’t know what we are doing. Even if we do know what we are doing with our printing, with many images getting the colour and contrast right sometimes is just impossible.
If this has been your experience, I would urge you to try some Cotton Etching 305. I continue to be amazed at how easy it is to print on. I am achieving blacks I have never been able to render on a matt paper before. The colours in my images really sing out like never before. Even with the generic profiles from the Fotospeed website you should get good results. If you use their free customers profile service this will get even better as your colour gamut will widen and the performance of the paper will increase. You may feel I am just over-hyping the paper because the box has my name on it. If so, I would urge you to take a look at THIS REVIEW in Photography News. (quick quote – “The paper’s all-round ability to handle such a wide range of subject matter, contrast range and different degrees of saturation and so capably was a nice surprise. Some textured fine art finishes are less good with rich images with deep blacks, but no such shortcomings here. Apologies if this is all rather gushy, but honestly there wasn’t a print that I was unhappy with so I had little to have a moan at.”)
As for handling of the paper, a couple of tips I can pass on. Firstly, store the boxes flat. This prevents curling on the leading edge which can cause ink to catch and mark the paper. I also use a ‘rocket blower’ to blow over the print surface of the paper to make sure there are no cotton fibres adhering. It is very frustrating to hold up your print to see these drop away leaving a small unprinted area beneath them. It is good to allow the print to cure for at least a few minutes or longer before any extensive handling after printing. Check the colours and contrast over by a window, preferably with bright overcast daylight, rather than side by side at your computer monitor. This is a better test for how beautiful your print is and how it will look when displayed in real life.
I hope you enjoy trying Cotton Etching 305. I now use it for almost every print I make. Valda Bailey and I also use it for virtually all the prints we make for clients in our bespoke printing service for photographers and artists who don’t have their own printer, or who want prints larger than their printer is capable of. (full details of our service HERE).
To help you if you would like to try it out, or if you already love it and would like to stock up, the very nice people at Fotospeed have given me a 15% discount code to pass on to you. PLEASE NOTE, this code is only valid for 30 days from Tuesday 24th July 2018 and it should apply not just to Cotton Etching 305 but to all their papers (but why would you want anything other than Cotton Etching now??). Just put your paper in your basket and apply the code on checkout. The discount will only be applied right at the end. DISCOUNT CODE – Doug15NL – I do hope you enjoy using the paper as much as I do. It has changed my printing forever.
And who knows, maybe this year is Newcastle’s year? Howay the lads!
This is difficult to write. Very difficult.
On Tuesday 10th April I had a nervous breakdown.
While that is a hard thing to admit. It was a terrible thing to experience.
On that Tuesday I was in the middle of leading a Light and Land tour in London with my good friend Terry Gibbins. It was also the opening night of my first group exhibition in London at the OXO Gallery on the South Bank. I was in the position of being in a very public situation with lots of people relying on me and I was expected to perform.
I had been feeling unwell for weeks, but didn’t realise what was brewing in my mind. I thought the anxiety building in my chest was simply over the opening night of the exhibition. Creative angst and all that, doubts about my work, of which I had many.
When I arrived at the private viewing I felt anxious in the extreme. I really didn’t want to talk to anyone. I couldn’t go and look at or stand by my images. I couldn’t engage with the visitors who were around them. I had to stay at the opposite end of the room. But I didn’t know why. People were being very kind, saying lovely things to me, especially Valda’s mum who seemed to sense I was struggling, but I didn’t know how to respond. The urge to run away was almost irresistible.
After the viewing I had to take my tour group out to do some more night photography but by now I was struggling to function. It felt like an out of body experience. Looking back, I don’t know how I got through the session.
It was back in the hotel room that It all went wrong. The room was terrible. A bleak nondescript cell. I was alone and an awful all encompassing blackness enveloped me. I was dry heaving, struggling to breath, the chest pains were extreme. I had hardly eaten for three days. The feeling of absolute bleakness is so hard to describe. The hours of the night stretched out endlessly. I couldn’t sleep, just pacing up and down the room. I daren’t leave the room because in my state of mind, while I didn’t think I would harm myself, I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t and I was worried that in not thinking clearly I could do something stupid.
I had never imagined I would be the type of person who would consider harming myself. I have always been a happy, outgoing, positive, optimistic person. For me, no matter how bad things are, I always see the positive side and make the best of any situation. I fight to make things better. I never give up. But this night I experienced a complete reversal of who I am. There was no light. Nothing positive. I had nothing to hold on to. I was falling into blackness and I didn’t know where the bottom was. I was terrified. I was losing my mind. But from then on each day has been a real struggle.
Since that initial breakdown I have had several repeat episodes along with panic attacks and constant anxiety accompanied with chest pains and other physical symptoms. My doctor, diagnosing the breakdown, has been very sympathetic and helpful. The medication has taken nearly four weeks to start to have a real impact on the symptoms, the dose having been doubled. I thought I would recover in a couple of weeks but it is dawning on me that this is not going to happen. As I look back, this has been a long time coming and it is going to take a while to get over. I have made progress, but there is a way to go yet.
I have had huge support from my wife. She has suffered with depression for years and so she really understands what this feels like. My teaching partner, Valda Bailey, has been a tower of strength listening to me and giving me good advice. She has been a rock in this storm. She also had to cover for me recently on a workshop when I had a ‘meltdown’ and was in no fit state to teach. I have to apologise to the group. Valda used a mythical, and as I learned later, extravagantly overstated case of ‘Montezumas Revenge’ as the excuse for my absence. It seems in her eagerness to make my situation seem serious enough for me not to be able to attend she gradually embellished the symptoms to such an extent that it sounded like I needed hospitalisation. So I must apologise to the group at Bosham that I asked Valda to deceive you, it was a hard decision for both of us, but at the time I was in a very bad way, but still didn’t feel able to reveal the real reason. I hope you understand. I have to thank her for coping with the group all on her own.
Other friends I have confided in, Terry, Chris, Carl, Gary and Martin as well as my sister, Lisa, have all been wonderful. I don’t know what I would have done without them and their genuine concern, patience, listening ears and wise advice. True friends at a time like this are life savers.
So why have I felt the need to write all this? While I am not entirely sure, I do have a real feeling that I don’t want to keep this hidden. I hated making an excuse when I was too ill to teach. I know that in future weeks there may be times I am with people and I won’t be myself. I don’t want to lie or mislead people. I’d rather be open about it. I’m ill, and it is affecting me in significant ways.
If I have been quiet, distant, seemingly ignored you, or just not been myself in recent weeks I hope I haven’t offended you. If I have, I want to apologise.
I feel stupid, weak, useless, silly and, to an extent, ashamed. I know I shouldn’t, but I do. I have always been someone who helps other people. Someone who sorts things out for others. A fixer, not someone who needs fixing. I am usually the strong one. To be in this position feels like failure. It feels like I am letting everyone down who relies on me. There is huge guilt associated with it.
The cause seems to be pressure. Too much pressure over too long a time. Pressure of work – not just the teaching and running the business but coping with keeping up with an overflowing in-box. Coping with all the myriad ways people can contact us these days – Phone, email, text, Whats App, Facebook Messenger, Twitter DM’s, Instagram Messages – it has become overwhelming keeping up with this. I also have some clients contacting me at all hours and so personal time and space has become almost non-existent. Then there is the pressure of caring for my mother in law – she is 94 now and has lived with us for nearly four years. She needs 24 hour care and so either my wife of I needs to be here all the time. We are, to all intents and purposes prisoners in our home. Caring for my Mum who is disabled and in hospital much of the time but in reality not doing enough for her and feeling guilty about that. Having responsibilities as secretary of my local congregation which was very time consuming.
So I have taken steps to prevent this happening again. I have reduced my workload considerably and will be reducing it further. I am only going to do as much work as we need to live. I have relinquished, reluctantly, many of my congregation responsibilities. I am simplifying my life as much as possible to reduce stress so that I am concentrating on the most important things. My goal is to get off of the medication as quickly as I can without relapsing.
I now have even more sympathy for any of you reading this that have had breakdowns, suffer with depression or anxiety. Having a wife who suffers I have understood a little what it involves, but now I have a much better understanding of just how bleak and all encompassing it is. I also understand how the medication affects you too. It is not a magic wand. I now feel neither happy nor sad. I feel nothing. Just dull and relatively emotionless. Cold. I lack motivation. I am sleeping too deeply and too long. I don’t like it, but it is better than the blackness, the lack of hope, the deep guilt and the feelings of total worthlessness of a couple of weeks ago. But I crave feelings. I want to feel emotions again. This is still not a good place to be and so I hope it is only temporary.
As a good friend keeps telling me, “onwards and upwards”. I just hope it is.
I can’t think of anything else to say.
For the last five and a half years I have been running all night photography workshops in London with my good friend, London Black Cab driver and fellow Light and Land leader Terry Gibbins. These led to me developing a winter version based around monochrome night photography and Victorian London with amazing photographer, workshop leader and another good friend of mine Charlotte Gilliatt. On this workshop we also teamed up with Terry and another cabbie, Bobby Pinto to provide the bespoke luxury transportation around the Capital city at night.
Both of these night workshops have proved to be incredibly popular right from the beginning, so much so that they have been filling from an email shortlist and have not made it on to my website. Currently over 150 people are waiting to go on the workshops, which is a testament to Charlotte, Terry & Bobby and the wonderful locations we cover through the nights. As far as I know, no one else offers an all night workshop in London with bespoke London cab transport from pick up at the station to dropping off in the morning, with a ratio of just four clients to one teacher. Many of those who came on the workshops have won awards and competitions with images that they have taken on the workshops, as well as having them published in magazines and exhibited.
However, five and a half years is a long time. I have done, I think, around a hundred workshops and so, for me, it is time to call it a day and move on to new challenges. But I am delighted the concept is going to continue in the safe hands of Charlotte and Terry. They are also planning new locations too, which is exciting for those of you who have done the workshops before and would like to do them again but fancy something different.
I am going to hand over to Charlotte my email list of all those who are waiting for a place on the workshops so she can keep you up to date with places as they become available (but if you no longer want to hear of dates you can always unsubscribe from her mailing list at any time). I want to thank all of you who have been with me on these workshops. I have really enjoyed my nights with you in the city and the adventures we have had. I know some of you have enjoyed them so much you have been with us three times. I hope you get to go again with the new team to new locations.
I am still going to be running my own workshops, it is just the night workshops that I am pulling out of. I will keep you up to date with all my new plans through Twitter, Facebook, my newsletter (if you subscribe) and here on my blog. If you would like to sign up for the shortlist to hear of new dates for the night workshops, which Charlotte and Terry will be starting again in April and running right through the summer, as well as new dates for the winter ‘Gaslights and Alleyways’ workshops, please go to THIS PAGE on Charlottes website.
It is impossible to visit the Hebrides and not be affected by them at some deeply elemental level. A place of ever changing moods, sculpted and formed by the wind and sea over millennia, it carves itself into your soul. At times the white sands of the beaches, the teal and turquoise of the waves seduce and beguile. In a heartbeat, though, she transforms. The islands can become a place of deep and abiding melancholy, of exhilarating storms which purge and restore. No wonder artists, poets, musicians and now, laterly, photographers, have been drawn again and again to ‘Hyperborea’. This mythical location ‘beyond the north wind’, identified by some as the Isle of Lewis.
‘Hyperborea – The Lands of the North’ is the title given to a group exhibition currently on display on Harris & Lewis, at the An Lanntair arts centre in Stornoway, the capital of the Island. Curated by Alex Boyd, it features the work not only of Alex himself (a photographer working in antique processes, striving to capture the essence of the northern lands, his work in the exhibition is entitled ‘Dark Mountains|Silent Islands’) but also the epic, insightful and truly moving work of landscape and documentary photographer Ragnar Axelsson entitled ‘Faces of the North’ along with a moving collection of images by photographic artist Chris Friel.
His contribution to the exhibition, a project comprised of 49 images entitled ‘After’, is a truly heartfelt and moving response to the loss of his dear son, Joe, who took his own life in early 2016 following a struggle with mental illness. Joe loved the Hebrides and so it was to here that Chris returned to make images in just one day in the place they had shared together. Running in conjunction with the images in Chris’s part of the exhibition is a video of images made by Chris on Lewis in August 2017 entitled ‘Still’ accompanied by a piece of music composed in Joes memory by Matthew Herbert, entitled ‘Be Still’ and recorded at the North Sea Jazz Festival on 9 July 2017. You can see the images and listen to the piece HERE
I had the privilege of printing the 49 images which make up Chris Friel’s ‘After’ collection in the exhibition. To work closely with Chris throughout this creative process was an honour. The images are so personal to Chris and it was essential to me that I did my very best to interpret the work exactly as Chris wanted. To give you an insight of the creative process, of how I work with Chris, how we chose the paper we used for the exhibition (in the end, Fotospeed Platinum Baryta) and also how I prepare the images for print in Lightroom, I have created two short videos. These take you through the process from start to finish and I hope you find them both interesting and that you also might learn a few tips from them too to help you with printing your work.
One positive thing that has come from the awful tragedy of Joes death is the fund set up by Chris and his family through the Just Giving website which is dedicated to Joe and is raising funds for the Young Minds Trust, a very worthwhile cause which aims to help young people struggling with mental illness. The families goal was to raise £16000, a £1000 for every year of Joes life, but at the time of writing in October 2017 the generosity of family and friends has raised a wonderful £44,376. Please visit the web page HERE to see a video created by Chris about Joe and to donate to the charity. You can also see the book Chris created with the images in the exhibition along with his personal images from Joes life. Entitled ‘Joe’, and curated with the help of Joseph Wright, it was a beautiful testament to his son. View it HERE. The book is not available for purchase. You can also vote on the Just Giving site for Joes fundraising page to receive recognition with an award. Please vote for it HERE.
You can see the images for the book ‘Joe’, HERE on Chris’s website. The landscape images from the book were then used as the source by Chris as the basis for the exhibition but he did further work on them and you can view the finished work as collection HERE.
I would like to urge you, if you have any chance at all to visit the exhibition, you will not be disappointed. It is on now and runs until 4th November 2017. You can find full details HERE.
You can buy Chris Friel’s prints through my website from THIS PAGE
If you have your Cloud backup with Crashplan you will have been informed that, while they will honour your subscription to the end of the current period, they won’t be renewing it. They also will have a 60 day grace period where they will hold your data while you get backed up to another provider. This is not good news when you have spent much time uploading potentially terabytes of data to them, but they have made a commercial decision to focus on business customers.
So you need to get your data backed up to a new provider. Who should you choose?
I have done extensive research and I use Backblaze. I have done for some time now. The service has been perfect with no issues whatsoever. The upload speed is blazingly fast (dependant on your broadband speed, obviously) and you get unlimited storage for your data for $5 a month (thats around £3.85 in the UK). I currently have almost 2 TB with them. I have only ever had to pull one file back from them when I had deleted a file in error and my on site back up also had an issue with the same file, and it worked flawlessly and ‘saved my life’.
If you use CLICK HERE to sign up with Backblaze you will get a free months use with them (and so will I, thank you!)
Please feel free to use this link whether you are a Crashplan user or if you have been meaning to get around to backing up to the Cloud but just haven’t done it yet.
I can highly recommend them for their security, speed (no throttling unless you control it at your end), ease of data retrieval and it is so simple to use – just set it up and forget it – it runs in the background and you are always backed up to the cloud.
Remember, every hard drive WILL fail one day – backing up is vital. Just backing up at home is not enough (but make sure you don’t rely on this alone – also have adequate on-site backups too). If you are burgled, flooded or have a fire you will still lose all your data. A cloud backup is the safest solution.
I hope you find this useful.
Some time back I was surprised and humbled to be asked to an interviewee on the excellent ‘Togcast’ podcast which is run by two very capable and nice gentlemen, Sam Gregory and my fellow Light and Land leader, Paul Sanders. (I would highly recommend you use your podcast software on your smart phone to subscribe to the Togcast and listen weekly – it is interesting, entertaining and you get to know many photographers we know from social media so much better.)
So it was a few weeks ago, Sam arrived at my home early one morning on a whistle stop tour of the North. He was cramming in several interviews with other far more worthy photographers than me on a marathon journey up ones side of the country and back down the other. Sam has a very engaging manner and I soon forgot I was being interviewed and we nattered away about photography for a couple of hours. I am very grateful to Sam for taking the time in his busy schedule to come and talk to me and I hope you find our chat interesting.
I have no recollection of what we spoke about and I am horrified to think what I must sound like or what I waffled on about. I am certainly not prepared to listen to myself back again. (After all, I have to listen to myself all the time, and that is quite enough, I can assure you).
He not only did an audio interview for the podcast, but he tried out doing a video session too, where we discussed three portfolios of my images in my Lightroom catalogue and he has released this as a separate video.
So, if you have nothing to do. And I mean absolutely nothing to do, if you have cleaned the oven out, sorted all your carpet tacs into jam jars by size, and organised your photo book collection alphabetically, then you might just want to have a watch and listen. But if you still haven’t got around to creosoting the fence, I would probably get that done first. Really.
Here is the video of our discussion of some of my images
And here is the audio Podcast
There is a (pleasing) trend towards more photographers publishing collections of their work as photobooks. Some are choosing to approach specialist publishers such as Triplekite or Kozu Books. These publishers will work in close partnership with the photographer and use their expertise in desktop publishing and printing to help bring a project to fruition. They may also have access to distribution and sales channels to help the photographer with, what is often the most difficult part of the project, selling the books.
Others prefer to do things on a much smaller scale and self publish using a proprietary platform such as Blurb, Lulu or one of the many others available. These companies often allow ‘print on demand’ so there is no upfront investment in pallets of stock and even if the photographer just wants a handful of copies to sell or give as gifts to family and friends this is relatively affordable. Some of these organisations include electronic versions and allow selling through Amazon and other sales channels. The quality can be good. It can be rather poor, but it may meet the needs of some.
There is now another approach some photographers are taking to make their work available to an appreciative photo-book collecting audience. The hand made (or partially hand made) photo book. These are made in very limited numbers due to the intensive nature of putting them together. They are usually beautifully printed on fine art papers, hand bound and often presented in hand made slip cases. The printing is usually of the very highest quality and as such they become treasured art objects in their own right.
One such example I was very fortunate to add to my collection recently was ‘YŪBI’, a hand made photo-book by husband and wife landscape photographers Denis and Freda Hocking.
Freda came on a workshop I was running with Valda Bailey up in the Lake District and she had bought a copy of the book with her. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to have a copy. It is unusual, though not unique, for a couple to work together so closely on photographic projects. If you visit the Hockings website (and I recommend you do) you will see they share it. The galleries display work from both of them. The galleries and images do not identify who has made them. This is truly a partnership at work. You will see images of the most wonderful quality throughout the website – and this is echoed in ‘YŪBI’. If you would like to listen to a great interview with Freda and Denis, I can highly recommend this one on the Togcast (I also recommend subscribing to the Togcast for great interviews with photographers on an almost weekly basis).
The book itself is a thing of great beauty. It goes without saying that the images within are stunning. Landscapes made world-wide on the Hockings global travels, that mesh with the meaning of the Japanese word ‘YŪBI’, which is ‘Gentle Beauty’. You will see images which reflect their individual styles (although no images are identified as to who took which – part of the fun is trying to second guess the originator). The whole book has a calmness, a serenity which aptly echoes the link with the principles of Haiku.
The couple had assistance from Eddie Ephraums at Envisage Books. He provided guidance on the format, sequencing, fonts, layout, paper choice, printing, binding and all the other areas where he has great expertise. His guiding hand is very evident in the quality of the book. But knowing Denis and Freda, it is also their incredible attention to detail, their striving for perfection and their intense love for the landscape and photography which completes this book. From the hand stitched Japanese binding (which must have taken many loving hours of work to complete, through to the perfect and beautifully printed slipcase complete with fine Japanese calligraphy (provided with help from the expert Yukiko Ayres) you can see this has been a real labour of love.
The first edition has been produced in just 100 copies, of which just a few remain. I can wholeheartedly recommend that anyone who loves the landscape and collects beautiful photo-books should invest in a copy of YŪBI. I am sure it will become a treasured addition to their collection, as mine has.
Many of us love making images in the square format. We either ‘see’ our photographs that way and compose for them in the field, often aided by the clever way many digital cameras these days allow us to display a square mask on the rear view screen. I love this feature and use it all the time on my Fuji X-Pro 2. Shooting in raw, I still have the option back in the studio to use the entire sensor area, but in the field it is so helpful to see the image on the screen cropped square. It makes composition so much easier. (If you shoot in jpeg, the file will be square and the data beyond the boundaries of the square is lost forever).
I was contacted recently by sleeklens.com who asked me to put one of their plugin packs for Adobe Photoshop through its paces. They make plugins for all types of photography, particularly portraiture and architecture but they also have a pack designed for landscape photographers so it seemed appropriate to give that a try. I opted for the Photoshop version, although they do a Lightroom version of all their plugins too for those who like to keep their workflows just within the Lightroom environment.
Ask any photographer and they will tell you, you can never have enough camera bags. Or it might be that we can never find the perfect camera bag. I’m inclined to think that there is no single one bag that meets all our needs. I have different situations I go into with my camera and need a different bag for each. Recently, I found myself frustrated with a limitation placed upon us by camera bag manufacturers and so turned to a conventional rucksack manufacturer, Glasgow based company Trespass, for the solution.
I am writing this blog to apologise. I am apologising about not replying.
You see, almost eleven years ago, when I started teaching workshops I used to say to my students, “if you have got any questions after the workshop, just drop me an email” and this was fine. I enjoy helping people overcome problems they have with their photography, helping them select the right gear or giving some help on good locations to try, so it was no problem to get a couple of emails a month with questions and to answer them.
I was felt very privileged some months ago when approached by photographer Roj Whitlock to write a foreword for his photo-essay entitled ‘april, may, june and then july’.
I had seen the images and Roj’s moving writing for the project some months earlier, following the death of his father to cancer, Cyril Henry Whitelock, who lived to be 101 years old. Roa had used walks with his camera in local woodlands as an escape, a diversion, as therapy, as solace during the last months of his fathers life. The images reflect the rollercoaster of emotions and feelings of such a time, which any of us who have supported a friend or loved one through cancer (whatever the outcome) will know all too well. His words add a deep poignancy to the photographs.
Before I start writing my review of ‘Fragile’ by Valda Bailey, I need to declare an interest. Valda is a good friend of mine. We teach workshops on alternative photography techniques for Light & Land and so it is very unlikely this review will be entirely unbiased, but I will try my best.
It is with a sense of pride that I opened this book when it arrived in the post from Triplekite Publishing. You see, I first met Valda on the 15th of August 2011. I can be very precise about that because she had booked me for a one to one – to learn about ICM (intentional camera movement) techniques, and in showing her some of those techniques that day I made an image which has become very popular for me – hence my ease of knowing the date, I just have to look at the raw file metadata. So, here we are, almost five years on, and Valda has gone from student of mine to co-workshop leader and has far surpassed me in her abilities with the camera in creating wonderful images. Indeed, here she has had a book published long before I am even considering such a thing.
I have been looking for a more flexible and better priced service than Dropbox for a while. I think I have found it. It is called Sync. They give you 5GB of free cloud storage, which I am currently testing (and if you USE THIS LINK I think you will get an extra GB, so 6GB in total, and I will get 1GB for referring you – https://www.sync.com/?_sync_refer=de5f7b0 )
The paid service gives you 500GB for $49 a year and 2TB for $98 a year, which is very competitive and will allow me to store virtually all of my data, including all of my images on the service.
Every now and then a photo book comes along which is a bit different, a bit special. Today was one of those days. I received my copy of Joseph Wrights ‘Edgelands – The Floods’.
The book is different in several ways. Yes, the images are beautiful, but not in a classic landscape photography way. Joe has chosen o venture into those areas that surround the places we live, the edges and margins of our towns, cities and villages, which most of us tend to ignore or dismiss as ugly, unkempt. The abandoned scrublands, the borderlands or neglect. Some were once used, now left to their own devices. Others are places which have never quite fitted the needs of developers, being the wrong shape, in the wrong place, too wet or perhaps difficult to build on. Nature has no such qualms about these places. Nature quietly gets on with colonising them, plants growing, animals living quiet lives while we rush by.
Joseph has ventured in and started to make sense of the chaos. He has discovered beauty in the confusion and documented this with his 10 x 8 large format camera. Then, he has taken the project in an interesting direction, printing the images at pretty much the same size as his film (8 x 10 inches) for this book. Imagine having a sensor in your camera that is 10 x 8 inches in size. Can you grasp the resolution and detail that would resolve? A 10 x 8 negative has to be seen to be believed and here they produce glorious prints. Joe has then gone on to learn, from none other than grand master John Blakemore, how to sequence the images and hand make them into a book. Joe has individually crafted and bound these books with his own hands. This is truly a craft process. Along the way he has had extensive mentoring from Eddie Ephramus who specialising in helping photographers who want to achieve their creative vision in print and it includes a foreword by Robbie Cowan which is an extract from a work of his based on these ‘edgelands’. The results are stunning.
I invested right at the beginning of the project (Joe ran this as a ‘Kickstarter’ style project to help raise the not inconsiderable funds required), in one of the very limited Collectors Editions, limited to just 30 copies. These came with a signed limited edition print from the project and the book itself enclosed in a beautiful linen covered hand made clam case with another inset image from the project. This inset image is unique to each clam case, so each collectors book becomes a unique item in itself. The collectors editions will never be released again. It is a beautiful thing to own. Seventy copies of the book alone are being made as a standard edition and some of these are still available (I am not sure at this time if any collectors editions are still available – if they are they will be in very short supply). You can read full details and purchase your copy HERE ON JOES WEBSITE.
I think the approach Joe has taken here, making a short run of a hand crafted photo book is a very interesting approach to self publishing. he had the pages produced commercially but hand crafted and assembled the book himself. I like the idea of the book being more of a craft object. It has a nice tactile feel and the hand made element ties in with the analogue approach of large format film photography. It provides another alternative to volume publishing for those looking to get their work before an audience, albeit a smaller one. I am drawn to the intimacy of it, to the deep involvement of the photographer, to the breadth of skills needed. I feel a greater engagement with the artist and the book becomes more of a treasure, an art object rather than being ‘just a book’ (although, never would I want to downplay just how valuable I feel books are). This becomes an object which bridges the gap between a fine wall print or painting and a volume run book. It takes a great investment of time, learning and passion from the photographer (and the team who has supported him) and this shows in the finished artefact. I am a big believer that art must have an artefact.
I have produced a brief video of my Collectors Edition to give you an idea of just how beautiful it is – please take a look.(and please forgive my very amateurish iPhone video skills).
Airlines seem to be making it increasingly difficult for us to travel with our camera gear these days, especially on budget flights. Most of us want to keep our precious cameras and lenses with us in our carry-on bags and yet the size permitted for those bags continues to decrease, as does the amount of weight we are allowed to pack into them.
Its always a good day when a photography book is delivered at home. Today, three were delivered, making it a very good day. Triplekite Publishing have been hard at work producing the first three in what is planned to be an ongoing series of books under the ‘Discovery’ series.
The stated aim of this series from Triplekite is to produce a ‘cohesive representation of landscape photography’. The plan is to release three books a year, identical in size (240 x 240mm) and page count (48), each with 25 plates which, despite being smaller than Triplekite’s other photography books, will still be made to the same exacting production standards. The plan is to release a further three or four books in the series in 2016.