I’ve just gone through the pains of replacing my computer. My main frame was making so much hard drive noise and running so slowly that it was high time I moved forward from XP and 2gb of ram. I now have a Intel i5 processor with 8gb of ram which should suffice for a few years. Suddenly I am able to construct images that I could not have hoped for in the past and this image from the cave at Menachurch Point will be my biggest ever photograph once it is completed.

This constructed photograph is made up of 116 separate frames, many of which were triplicates of the same part where I would use my hand or dodging tool to remove flare; then skillfully merged together in Photoshop layers (minus the fingers). I will be able to get this 1.5gb file printed fine-art high-quality to at least 5 foot or 1.5 metres. An earlier ‘snapshot’ version is below.

This cave is of particular interest to me; lying at the edge of North Cornwall AONB at Hartland it is the spot where the RFA Green Ranger came to rest after it’s shipwreck at Gunpath Rock in 1962.

Green Ranger – copyright unknown

Oops! Hopefully nobody noticed, the shipwrech at Menachurch Point is actually the 1,925 ton steamship “Belem” stranded in thick fog here on 20th November 1917. I’ve included a picture of some of the remains at the bottom of this blog post. There ought to still be something left of the Green Ranger further up the coast – I shall have to explore soon!
I’ll be leading a photographic workshop ‘Sea Caves, Shipwrecks and the Rocky Shore’ here on Thursday 1st November, exploring this and many other caves and what is left of the Green Ranger (see below). You’ll get a good introduction to my own photography whilst learning how to make the best of your own including using your camera under demanding landscape and lighting. Price for the day is ?50, please email me to book a place:


Remains of the shipwreck 'Belem' 1917



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

From Source to Sea

There is much demand for photographic workshops in 2011. This week has seen me at Budehaven School in Bude, Cornwall introducing digital photography to some 15/16 year olds, including being interviewed by them. They were a tremendous bunch of students spending 2 hours on the bitterly cold beach making some very good pictures of the natural and man-made landscape.

Clockwise, 1st & 3rd by Colin Rowland, 2nd Frank Whitehead.

Then at the weekend I had similar weather for a workshop ?Making the Most of your Digital Camera? at the Burton Art Gallery and Museum in Bideford. This was based or inspired by an exhibition of the watercolourist Shelia Hutchinson whose exhibition ?From Source to Sea?, first shown in 1951, was in the gallery. The wonderful image above of Bideford and its historic longbridge is from the exhibition. Unlike Hutchinson who took the train, cycled and hiked the length and breadth of the Torridge Valley in the late 1940?s with painting gear in her backpack; we were restricted to just over 1 hour?s time photographing Bideford?s quay, river, bridge and quaint streets. The morning was dedicated to understanding the digital camera, shutter speeds, aperture, ISO, file size, exposure etc then after lunch the photographs were made. It was an exhilarating day, it was amazing how much was learned the proof of which was in the prints, 2 each, the participants made and exhibited in the Burton?s Gallery, by the end of the afternoon. The images will be on show until 4th February.Workshop photographers: Janet Millen, Ian Penrose, Colin Rowland, Norman Tuck and Frank Whitehead

Pinhole Workshops

There seems to be a lot of demand for Pinhole Workshops this year, either that or I’m in greater demand, either way is good. I’ve just completed a days workshop at the Dartmoor Life Museum in Okehampton, a wonderful place full of nooks and crannies where you discover treasures of the past.

The miracle of photography is experienced in its most heightened form through a pinhole workshop. I?ll never understand how I completed a National Diploma in Graphic Design and a HND in Photography without being taught about the pinhole camera. It wasn?t until I started teaching full-time myself that I learned about this subject. The amazing thing is, as my 7 students learned yesterday, that you start the day with a shoebox or biscuit tin and after about an hour using only black card, scissors, tape, a square of black plastic and a pin, you can make a usable camera.
Guessing the exposure takes a little longer (unless you do some complex maths), because every camera (or box in this case) has a different size, or distance from the pinhole to the paper negative (traditional photo paper). Fortunately, with everyone using the same pin, the ?lens? diameter is the same. Considering that the only adjustment to exposure was time, 3 of the 9 cameras made in the workshop made acceptable paper negatives at the first shoot. After another couple of tries everyone had a good exposure. Keeping the cameras still, through exposures of between 1 and 8 minutes with a little wind around, proved to be the next challenge. And the final challenge was getting an interesting image. The image below is a pinhole photo of her mum by a 5 year old called Ophelia and has the quality of Julia Margaret Cameron.

My next pinhole workshop is on Saturday 4th September at the Plough Arts Centre in Torrington and is for anyone over 14. Please get in touch with the Plough to book a place.

2010 Photographic Workshops

When I started leading photographic workshops last year I thought it would just be a summertime thing that tourists to North Devon might enjoy, boosting their photographic skills and knowledge whilst on holiday. I hadn?t anticipated just how many local people wanted photographic instruction or that I would have already had two successful workshops this year; with two more ?painting with light? type courses in my calendar:

Tuesday March 16th 5.00pm-9.00pm at Spacex Gallery in Exeter

On Saturday 27th March 6.30pm on Westward Ho! Beach

I have been a fan of night photographers for some years now, inspired by Troy Paiva, William Lesch, Mark Klett and the Nocturnes ?fellowship? often based in the desert regions of the USA. Theirs is often a purist image, black or dark blue skies, moon and star trails, old abandoned ghost towns, romantic idyllic places to get away from the heat of the day to. Here in England a clear sky without light pollution is rare, weather is unpredictable and the winter night is cold.

Over the last couple of years I have also been fascinated with the experience of being out at night, far away from the lights. Walking without a torch, on invisible footpaths, sometimes your guide being a slight gap in overhead trees, dark grey as opposed to black, which you use for direction. Your spatial awareness vastly diminished and relying of the rods in your eyes to see a world in monotone.

Photographing at night can be like painting on a blank canvas, adding light, colour, texture and form to a desaturated scene. The whole process is very photographic. Where there is no light we can open a shutter for ever without a single photon of exposure. As soon as we strike a match we have an exposure. Making an image from light is such fun.