Supplementary Photographs

This blog has been put aside a little over the last month with a greater concentration on my Facebook posts and with all of the work I seem to have this year including the build-up to my major American exhibition. One of the good suggestions from North Devon’s AONB team, which is funding the exhibition prints through their Sustainable Development Grant, was to include more than just caves. This was a great advice and I’ve been inspired through earlier posts to put my pictures of North Devon’s caves in context through other more general landscapes of the coast here, all be it in extreme weather.

Another addition to the show will be almost 200 snapshot sized photographs that I’ve taken on the ND coast from over the last 6 years. This blog is a set of rusty images from the MS Johanna and other related photographs. I was interested to see how a large metal ship can slowly disappear and start to blend in with the rocks with their natural iron content and with yellows and browns of the wider landscape. If only plastic did the same!
The exhibition in the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island will be in two large glass cabinets, 8ft wide by 5ft high and 15inches deep. The supplementary images, along with some tourist postcards will line the bottom shelf of each cabinet and give a real context in terms of place for my fine-art images hung above. This will emphasize how two coasts with the name ‘Graveyard of the Atlantic’ are so different; one a sandy beach the other a rocky shore.
There are more supplementary images here: The Iron Coast

MS Johanna

My working practice seems to have the construction of an image as an inherent part of it. This picture of the MS Johanna in a gale at high tide wrecked on Hartland Point was constructed from 4 photographic frames taken over a 10 minute period. I made 54 separate RAW images from a fixed camera viewpoint between 09.31 and 09.41 on December 16th 2011. The finished print reflects my memory of the place and of the experience of being there at that time.
The key reason for needing to combine frames for this image has to do with the limitations of the camera. Our eyes instantly focus as we observe a scene so that the foreground, middle and background appear all in focus to us. To achieve this depth of vision I am forced to use a very small aperture in the camera lens and compensate this with a slow shutter speed. But my memory of these terrific waves breaking on the quay is of that frozen moment when they reach their zenith before they come crashing down again. To capture that moment I needed to use a fast shutter speed and compromise that with a wide aperture which made the background, and the all important shipwreck, out-of-focus.
Other reasons for combining frames in this image was the sky which I was able to make more like I saw it by exposing it for less time and making it darker. The aperture in our eyes alters automatically; as we look at something lighter it closes and as I have found in many dark caves the aperture opens and in time the rods in the eye take over from the cones. I also chose a frame where the MS Johanna was both visible and light enough to make out against the background cliffs.
It had always been my intention in the planning of this photograph that it should be a combination of the wind, storm, high tide, waves, the wreck of the Johanna and to include a stretch of the Hartland cliffs as a setting. Although I shot 126 photographs in total within a ? hour period I had done this with the goal of this one image in mind.
As a comparison I?ve included a picture made last summer of the same shipwreck.

Heavy Weather

I?ve been doing a lot of reading about shipwrecks and lifesaving in preparation to my Graveyard of the Atlantic exhibition this April. This title has become an inspiration to me. The North Devon coast has approximately 10 shipwrecks every mile but most of them don?t stay around for too long. One of the oldest still visible is the Sally of Bristol wrecked in 1769 on the beach at Northam Burrows. But you don?t have to photograph a shipwreck to evoke the Graveyard of the Atlantic. So I?ve been out in all weathers (except sunny and fine) trying to show why this coast got its name.
The photograph above was made in the early morning light, high tide in a gale at Hartland Point in December. The MS Johanna, which was wrecked here 400 metres from the lighthouse (which is behind me) can be seen in the far distance. More details about this image can be found on my blog post MS Johanna. This is not the kind of weather you would want to be out at sea and it is easy to imagine how easily a ship could go down especially in the days before modern navigation; once a sail has been torn or a rudder broken you?re totally at the mercy of the sea. 
Heavy Weather, a new set of images to supplement my cave photographs, will be at Schooners Cafe in Appledore from Saturday 11th February.
I have a new series of photographic workshops starting with an Introduction to Digital Photography on Saturday February 11th. The complete list is as follows:
Photographic Workshops in Devon, Winter 2012
Introduction to digital photography 10am – 5pm – ?50

A practical days workshop learning to gain control over your camera, shutter speeds, aperture, ISO, flash etc, setting it up for optimum quality under any given lighting, and making better pictures through composition. Numbers limited to a hand-full.

Saturday 11th February in Bideford
Saturday 25th February in Barnstaple
Thursday 1st March in South Molton
Thursday 8th March in Bideford

Half Day Intro to digital photography 2.00pm – 4.30pm – ?25

A ‘sit around the table’ workshop to get to know your camera better. You’ll learn about shutter speeds, aperture, ISO, flash and setting your camera up for optimum quality.

Wednesday 22nd February in Bideford
Wednesday 14th March in Barnstaple
Painting with Light 6pm – 9.00pm – ?25

An evening workshop celebrating the dark nights of the Winter. You’ll learn how to make ‘long exposure’ photographs using coloured lights, flames, sparklers and hand-held flash.

Wednesday 7th March – Northam Burrows (Westward Ho!)
Photographing your own Artwork 10am – 5pm – ?50

I have a wealth of knowledge and experience of photographing 2D artwork, jewellery and ceramics and I’m willing to pass this on to artists eager to improve their own image making camera skills. Although this workshop is for a small group (max 5) I also offer it on a 1:1 basis for ? a day for the same price.

Wednesday 15th February in Bideford
Introduction to Photoshop 10am ? 5pm – ?50

Opening an image file and adjusting levels, contrast, brightness and colour balance. Rotating, resizing and cropping an image. Placing an image or images into a new file. Using layers and history. Participants will need to be computer literate i.e. use a computer on regular basis and understand the basic controls. Small group (max 4).

Thursday 16th February in Bideford
Intermediate Photoshop 10am ? 5pm – ?50

Using tools, masks and filters to manipulate your image. Tools used in this session are: marquee, move, lasso, magic wand, eraser, paint bucket, eyedropper, hand and zoom. Making a contact sheet and using batch production. Adding type to your image. Participants will need to be computer literate i.e. use a computer on regular basis and understand the basic controls. Small group (max 4).

Thursday 15th March in Bideford

More Workshops in the Summer:

1 day Workshop: Learning to Look – Theory and Practice

10 week Evening Class: Introduction to Digital Photography