Tuesday, 5 March 2013


Sunday saw me heading to Liverpool to take another look at the photographs in the Tate, and at a small Auerbach I had missed first time round. While I was there I was surprised to see how many people were taking photographs in the gallery, with attendants looking on oblivious. All were using compacts or phones. So I fitted in nicely with the X10 in my pocket!

Then it was over to the Open Eye Gallery to check out the two latest exhibitions. The Edith Tudor-Hart show was interesting. I was intrigued by how many people in the crowd scenes were looking, or even waving, at the camera. I was prepared to be annoyed by the other exhibition of Mishka Henner's work. It's' hard to call it photography because it is mostly the currently fashionable 'appropriated' photography. Work done on or to other people's original photographs. That or word-art about photography. I have nothing against this sort of thing as art. I just don't think it should be shown in a photography gallery. There is little enough space given to photography as it is for some of it to be taken up with what I consider to be non-photography.

However, my visit wasn't wasted as I picked up a copy of the book I had gone to look at. rather than purchase it unseen on-line I wanted to have a flick through a copy. I liked what I saw and handed over my cash.

Although the understanding and reading of photographs has interested me for as long as I can remember, much of the modern writing on photography seems to be done by academics, rather than photographers, purely to impress other academics. Since I wrote my dissertation over 30 years ago there has been an explosion of texts about photography. But most of the books I have read from this period are littered with quotes and cited sources that seem to me to serve merely to show how well read the author is. It's as if they are frightened to proffer an unsupported opinion of their own. From Barthes on they make no reference to the act of making pictures with a camera. perhaps that's why they are frightened to comment on the practice as they have no experience of it. They know a lot about the cultural significance of photographs and pscho-babble though!

Tired of visiting the beach my experience of trying to make pictures today made use of the sunshine at the quarry. It's the play of light and shadow in amongst the trees and on the rocks that fascinates me there.

It remains a struggle for me to make pictures which satisfy me at the quarry - both from a technical and aesthetic point of view. That's probably why it interests me. My sloppy technique still lets me down at times, but the slower pace of working makes for a different way of thinking.

Once more I tried  to take two views of a scene - one wide and one close - a few times. More often than not this failed. I also shot into the light a few times but the flare was all but impossible to overcome. A large 'flag' was what I needed to shade the lens.

There are small signs of spring on the way, nettle shoots and leaf buds opening. As the year progresses the quarry will likely become impenetrable in places as the undergrowth regrows. Time will tell if it will still be possible to take photographs when the leaves are on the trees and the brambles and nettles are rampant!


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