Benoath Cove is tucked around a headland from it’s main access at Bossiney Haven. It’s beach is usually under the waves, but on a low spring tide rocky cave pierced cliffs are like heaven to me! I was there in mid-March on one of the lowest tides of the year which gave me four hours to explore and photograph. This blog post represents my sketchbook or work-in-progress as I haven’t made a finished image at the time of posting; that will have to wait until a rainy day. However my working practice includes making iPhone photo-constructions on location and I like to process my RAW images asap and then make quick, automated, photomerges from the jpegs produced.
I timed my visit to Benoath so that I was there two hours before low tide and took the less used, old path, down to the beach. This path isn’t way-marked and I wouldn’t recommend it; the first part was covered in brambles which are only bearable in the winter when they’ve died back and heavy jeans are worn, the second part, the decent down the cliff, is treacherous as most of it is on a steep ledge with only a rail to keep you from plunging to the beach. The last section has no handrail and just an old fishing rope, tied to the end of the rail, to help you over the steep, wet, smooth, slippery rocks onto to equally difficult beach below. I had been on the beach in the past but it was disorientating with the sea still so far in, so it took a few minutes of clambering up and down the so far accessible rocky beach, before I could find the cave I was looking for. I refer to this cave as Signal Cave because you can actually make a mobile phone call inside. I even received a text right at the very back which has to be at least 30 metre from the opening.
My reason for getting into the cave as soon as possible after the receding tide was aesthetic, the wet walls and dripping ceiling make for a far more dramatic image. This particular cave is my current favourite and I could easily have spent all four hours here, as it has three distinct entrances which all join together far into the the cliff. It takes me approximately an hour to shoot the frames for a single constructed photograph so four hours was never going to be enough on this beach as it was visually so generous.
It takes me approximately an hour to shoot the frames for a single constructed photograph so four hours was never going to be enough on this beach as it was visually so generous. These last two iPhone AutoStich images will have to wait to photographed properly! The first I entered with only a few minutes before low tide, which was lapping at it’s mouth, and I had to force myself to leave it for another day (I know how obsessive I can be to perfect the image, I knew I would be so absorbed in my work that time would disappear and I could be cut off, inside the cave!).
I’m working on totally revamping my website so please be patient for a few days – It will be fully working very soon!
Meanwhile I have a new series of Photographic Workshops available from next month. For more information or to book please email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07530 508681
Half Day Intro to your digital camera – Friday 3rd June in Barnstaple, (1.30-4.30pm) ?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.
iPhoneography Workshop ? Wednesday 15th June in Barnstaple, (9.30am-12.30pm) ?25
A practical workshop to learn how to use your iPhone’s camera to take professional looking photographs and enhance those images on the go. Suitable for anyone with an iPhone. You will need to install a few cheap photo apps in advance which I’ll advise on when booking!
Digital Camera Skills ? Thursday 23rd June in Bideford, (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. I also offer it on a 1:1 basis for ? a day for ?75
Photographing your own Artwork ? Friday 1st July in Bideford, (11am-6pm) ?60 with lunch, tea and coffee provided!
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 4) I also offer it on a 1:1 basis for ? a day for ?75, or I can deliver the workshop in your own home or studio anywhere in Devon for ?125
Introduction to Photoshop ? Thursday 7th July in Bideford (10am?5pm) – ?60 with lunch, tea and coffee provided!
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). I also offer it on a 1:1 basis in your own home or studio anywhere in Devon for ?175
I?ve just come to the end of two weeks of workshops for myself ?greengallery?, Beaford Arts, the Plough Arts Centre and BBC Blast. It?s funny how it all comes at once; but good that I now have a week dedicated to only the Bideford Folk Festival.
Everyone seemed extremely happy with all they achieved through the workshops, and organisers too, with many sessions being over subscribed; photography seems to getting very popular!
The workshops have covered the whole spectrum of photographic genre and it?s whole history (and pre-history): chronologically I started with the pin-hole camera, at Beaford Arts with a ?gifted and talented? summer school residential designed for school children. The technology of seeing an inverted image on the wall of a darkened room through light entering a tiny hole was known over 2000 years ago and noted by Aristotle. Being inside the room and gradually seeing the image of the outside world reveal itself on the walls, as our eyes adjusted to the lack of light, was a great thrill; repeated again with adults two days later with just as much excitement.
Adult students on my weekend course made pinhole cameras from boxes and tins. This is an incredible process as the raw material is simply a box or tin, made light tight through the liberal use of black tape, made non-reflective inside using black paper or card and having a lens (hole) made with a pin prick in a piece of silver foil which is then taped over a larger hole somewhere on the box. Exposures are made through the pinhole onto black and white photo paper, held in the box with masking tape. Another square of black tape serves as a shutter. That?s all there is to it and this image was made after about 5 hours of the workshop. The image above was made by ‘soon to be teacher’ Natacha Withoft.
Images without a camera follows with the making of photograms or as Man Ray coined in the 1920?s ?Ray-o-graphs?, the placing of objects on photographic paper, exposing them to light in a darkroom, then developing and fixing the image ? this process goes back to the very early days of photography 1840?s when Fox Talbot and others made similar images on light sensitive paper. Daylight prints or chemograms were also made, a similar process but with no darkroom, and giving wonderful warm browns, pinks, purple and yellow colours, with occasional greens where the paper was fixed (slightly) first and silver where a build up of the metal occurred on the paper.
To carry on in a chronological order I could give you two examples of long exposures which relate to the length of time one might have had to expose film or plates in the 19th century. One of my workshop titles for BBC Blast was ?Action Photography?, and one of my methods for recording action/movement was to slow it down and sometimes use flash to freeze it within the same image; this image shows my Blast students photographing a dance practice with as slow shutter speeds as they could use. The process was taken to a greater extreme at the Beaford residential where, after everyone feeling really tired by 8pm we took stock for an hour then carried on outside to experience night photography. Give a few young teenagers torches and you need to do little directing to make some great images. Everyone got fantastic pictures, even those who had no control over shutter speed managed to make images by combining layers of light rings together. This image of the Beaford Centre and students was a 1 minute exposure using a tripod to steady the camera.
Another successful project during the residential was making a joiner similar to David Hockney?s images made in the 1980?s. Students were encouraged to photograph each other in situ around the building; making many images which were then printed out and joined together to make life-sized images. This one, slightly bigger than life, will be made permanent through wallpaper pasting the images onto the door then sealing it with yacht varnish.
Coming right up-to-date all of the BBC Blast workshops, the Plough Arts Centre and most of the Beaford residential were based around getting more out of digital cameras. Time was spent on all of these understanding the basics; aperture, shutter speed, focal length, ISO, exposure etc; setting the cameras up for optimum image quality and making more interesting and engaging images for any given subject. Using the past as inspiration to visualise the future.
Experiencing life inside a camera, a converted bedroom at Beaford Arts.