What is Photographic Expressionism?
Ever since the earliest days of photography, this new method of creative expression has sat uneasily in the art world. Many steeped in the more traditional techniques of painting, drawing, sculpture, along with a large proportion of gallery owner’s, collectors, critics and museum curators have viewed it as a somehow less worthy art form. Perhaps it seems rather easy compared to other crafts - more dependent on the equipment than the skill of the practitioner. Yet, the earliest photographers were artists first, intrigued by this new medium and it wasn’t long before they were looking for ways to abstract the images they were making.
The paucity of significant museum exhibitions devoted to abstract photography testifies to this state of affairs. MOMA in New York held a flurry of three such exhibitions between 1948 and 1960 (In and Out of Focus 1948, Abstraction in Photography 1951 and The Sense of Abstraction 1960) The next internationally important exhibition was ‘Shape of Light’ at Tate Modern, London in 2018 - a gap of almost sixty years. This seems to bolster the view that abstract photography is the poor relation of the art world.
Under a Moondrawn Tide
The Haul Home
Imitation or Inspiration?
In London on a flying visit for a meeting, I just had time to shoot over to Tate Britain beforehand. There I enjoyed a precious hour in the company of Van Gogh and then an artist new to me, Frank Bowling.
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.
First thoughts on the Canon EOS R and Multiple Exposure Photography
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.
Announcing a New Book Project and Exhibition
I am delighted (and very apprehensive) to announce that I will be publishing the first book of my work in early 2019
Review of Fotospeed Cotton Etching 305 Signature Paper
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).
Onwards and Upwards
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.
Time to Say ‘Goodnight’
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.
Hyperborea – The Lands of the North.
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.
Cloud Backup Provider Crashplan Deserts Domestic Customers
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'.
Being Interviewed on the Togcast
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.
YŪBI – Truly a book of ‘Gentle Beauty’
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.
Working with Fotospeeds New Square Fine Art Papers
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).
Sleeklens Landscape Plugin Review
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.
Trying a different approach to rucksacks
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.
‘april, may, june and then july’ by Roj Whitelock
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.
‘Fragile’ by Valda Bailey
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.
New Dropbox Style Cloud Service I Am Trying – Sync
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.
Edgelands – The Floods by Joseph Wright
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.
How to Travel Light With Your Fuji Camera Gear
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.
I have been packing today in readiness to co-lead a workshop tour with David Ward to the Hebridean island of Harris and Lewis. The carry on bag size for the flight to Stornorway is a paltry 40cm x 35cm x 18cm, not exceeding 6kg. Imagine packing a bag that size with a pro-DSLR and a set of lenses. Even if they would fit physically, I'm sure they would exceed the weight restriction.
Triplekite Books New Discovery Series
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.