Lamp-posts at Valras

landscape, recent work, urban landscape
Valras, Hérault, France, October 2018
Valras, Hérault, France, October 2018

I’m in the process of preparing a project for a group exhibition on the theme of ‘connections’.

The theme had me scratching my head for a while. Then one day I looked up and saw something that seemed to perfectly embody the theme: telegraph poles and the overhead wires they carry and which connect us in various ways. 

I’ve long found telegraph poles, electricity poles, and overhead wires beautiful and intriguing. They can be seen as elegant, incredibly tall, thin plinths topped with abstract sculptures consisting of wires, boxes, tubes and hoods holding lights. I hope that I’ll be able to make some photos that communicate the beauty I find in these forms. 

The above photograph was taken at Valras. It had been quite a few months since I last visited this beach resort (I avoid it during the Summer months as it is too crowded and too hot) and I was struck anew how this place always gives me something interesting, exciting and beautiful. 

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two Photos of Bédarieux’s Beautiful Viaduct

architecture, black and white photography, landscape

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Bédarieux, Hérault, France, May 2018

Maybe the most spectacular architecture in the town of Bédarieux is its viaduct. A structure consisting of 37 vaulted arches crossing the valley of the river Orb. It was built in order to give the bauxite quarries in the surrounding hills access to the Paris/Béziers mainline, which passes through Bédarieux.

Trains ceased using it a long time ago, but for a long time it served as a short-cut across the valley for pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians. Now, for safety reasons, even these are prevented from using the viaduct.

I live nearby. It is a simple but fascinating structure, and each time I walk under it I learn a little bit more about architecture. The other day, when the river Orb was in full spate after heavy rains, I observed how those piers that stood in the river, their bases had the shape of a shield laid horizontally, the point of the shield directed upstream. I noticed how this point split the current, and also deflected branches and larger debris, which would have otherwise got stuck, caused accumulations and created a dam.

These photos don’t show the viaducts entire span. To have attempted such a photograph would have been to allow the ‘concept’ of the viaduct to distract me from the (I think) more subtle beauty that Chance, Occasion and Disordered Reality were offering me.

Keen-eyed observers will notice that one of the two photographs has been horizontally flipped.

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Bédarieux, Hérault, France, May 2018

Three Parked Cars

black and white photography, landscape, Uncategorized

I’m not the greatest lover of cars: I passed my test, unenthusiastically, when I was well into my forties and resent now living a life that obliges me to drive.

A photographer interested in the beautiful ‘mess of reality’ has to come to terms with things that maybe don’t interest him, or which may be a bit at odds with his aesthetic sense. Especially so when that ‘uninteresting thing’ is as omnipresent as are cars.

I no longer feel irked when there’s a car parked in front of an interesting old building, or spoiling a beautiful landscape. I dive in and photograph away, relishing the challenge of making something beautiful and meaningful from the notional incoherence the car has introduced into the scene.

Occasionally I capture something that I’m quite pleased with…

 

 

A Touch of Atget

landscape

Valquières, Hérault, France, September 2018

Valquières, Hérault, France, September 2018

I’d long assumed that I’d already explored and photographed the tiny village of Valquières – after all Valquières no more than a couple of hours’ walk away, and I have lived here for almost ten years now, and in the decades previous to moving here had systematically explored the region (or so I thought).

So when I came to Valquières for what I thought was a return visit, I was surprised to find the place completely unfamiliar to me.

I like to pore over maps and pick new places to explore and photograph, but like the man in the gorilla suit who walks across the back of the set whom no-one notices there are places that manage to escape my attention, even when I’m looking for exactly that kind of place to explore.

The spot was as idyllic and tranquil as the photograph suggests.

It was outside the village. Behind me were lavoirs – public wash-basins supplied by an abundant spring. As we came closer the grassy cobbles around the lavoirs exploded with the slap and splash of frogs making good their escape. In the green depths of the basins newts hid, frozen in the billows of filamentous water weed.

The above photograph reminds me of some of Atget’s late work in Sceaux Park. I thought about including an example of this work, but I fear my work would too much suffer by being viewed alongside his.

Self-Portraits in a Jar

3D, experiment, recent work, self-portrait

Self-Portrait, Bédarieux, Hérault, France, October 2018

Self-Portrait, Bédarieux, Hérault, France, October 2018

It’s been a while since I made my last post on this blog and I thought I’d come back with something unusual.

I’ve been messing about with printing portraits on flimsy tracing paper, then placing them in water-filled jars, letting them go soggy, and photographing them as they tear, fold and collapse, also making use of distortions created by the curvature of the water. However, whilst the results were interesting, they didn’t particularly excite me.

Then I bought a rather odd lens: Loreo’s 3D macro lens in a cap.

 

This lens is designed for half-frame digital cameras, but fits my Canon EOS 50e – a 35 mm film camera. The image does not quite fill the usual 35mm frame area, but that doesn’t bother me, and I like the resulting soft edges.

Normal 3D cameras have their lenses 6cm apart – the usual separation of human eyes. But 3D vision gets harder for human eyes and brain as the object of interest comes close. Human eyes struggle to resolve objects closer than about 15cm – the eyes have to cross uncomfortably, and what the right eye sees and what the left eye sees is too different for the brain to integrate into 3D vision.

This means that close-up photographs can’t be made with a normal 3D lens. The problem is resolved by reducing the separation between the two lenses and, ideally, having the lenses slightly converging, to reproduce the ‘crossed eyes’ effect. With the Loreo 3D macro lens the separation between the two lenses is only 2cm, but unfortunately the lenses don’t converge.

The effect of this lens is to miniaturises the viewer and make the thing being viewed seem monumentaly large –  an effect I am keen to explore in my self-portraiture.

I originally converted these into anaglyphtic images – which require red/cyan glasses to view. But I much prefer them ‘unconverted’ – as they appear on the negative: two slightly overlapping, subtly different images side-by-side.

 

When I receive my next wage packet I’m going to get a wide-angle attachment and fit it to the front of this lens – it’s long been my intention to make macro 3D versions of what I call my ‘strobe shakey-head self-portraits‘ – giving them a monumental feel.

Celles, Hérault

black and white photography, landscape, recent work, Uncategorized

“Un seul être vous manque, et tout est dépeuplé.” (One person’s absence and the whole world’s empty)
Alphonse de Lamartine

Celles is a small village not far from where I live.
It sits on the bank of Lac du Salagou – an artificial lake created for tourism. When the barrage that created the lake was built in 1964–68, the intention was to raise the water level in two stages—first to 139m, and then to 150m. The second stage would have submerged the village, and accordingly the village and its vineyards were evacuated and abandoned. The first stage of water level left the water lapping at the foot of the village without encroaching on any structures. But the second stage was never implemented.
The authorities are allowing the village to decay and all buildings except the town hall and the church are in ruins.

 

 

A Last Glance at Lacoste, Hérault

black and white photography, landscape

Lacoste, Hérault, France, June 2016

Lacoste, Hérault, France, June 2016

Those familiar with the little Village of Lacoste will struggle to recognise this place as the image is left-right flipped. This was the last image I took the last time I was there, as I was climbing into my car, pleasantly exhausted from a couple of hours of photographing. From my car seat I saw this scene and something about it prompted me to capture it.

Revisiting this photo a couple of years later I find that it still engages me. I’m still not sure why but it reminds me that Photography is at its most interesting when it is at its most elusive, allusive and mysterious.

Friday Night was Curry Night…

black and white photography, landscape, road photographs, urban landscape

Bradford, West Yorkshire, July 2008

Bradford, West Yorkshire, July 2008

The photo was probably taken on a Friday evening through the windscreen of my good friend Michael’s car as we motored along the Batley-Bradford road .

Friday night was curry night for our group of friends. For years we’d meet at a pub and afterwards go on and complete the evening with a curry. ..Good beer, good company, good food and a belle-laide landscape to photograph – could Life have been any better?

Coming into Liverpool on the School Bus

landscape, road photographs, urban landscape

Liverpool, England, June 2008

Liverpool, England, June 2008

This photograph was taken from the school coach as it crossed Liverpool to take students to the Liverpool Tate on an Art Department trip.

Back then, I was the (part-time) technician for the Art and Music departments. I also ran the school’s photography club, and, for an hour or two each week, taught black and white photography to small groups of first year pupils (you can see a photo taken during one of these lessons here).

In 2008 I had to leave England and come live in France. I loved my work and felt

Recent Photos – January – February 2018

landscape, road photographs

This is a bit of a hotch-potch of photos, all taken since my last ‘recent work’ post.

I feel a bit frustrated with my most recent work.  I think I’ve struggled a bit because I’ve been chopping and changing film. My favourite film/developer combination is Fomapan 100 in 1+49 Rodinal – but the 100 iso is just a pain when photographing in Winter, especially as I find it hard to work with a tripod. So I tried Agfa APX 400 and Ilford HP5+. But neither work well with Rodinal.

I don’t make a fetish of the ‘perfect negative’  – I prefer a subtle image imperfectly