Saturday, 24 April 2021

Plodding along the same track

There's a lot more to see on the moss at the moment with ground being worked and crops planted. The sun has been shining and I've been out as often as possible taking mostly the same old pictures. Sometimes trying to improve on ones which I haven't quite got a 'best' version of. Always showing up how a directionless 'project' will always end up without a conclusion unless circumstances enforce one.

The glint of light on the Mylar strip lifted this a little above my previous pictures of the subject, as did being able to get closer and include some crop in teh frame

The blue fleece holding pegs were something new.

A trailer of dressed seed was another subject I hadn't photographed before.

But fleece held down by bags wasn't. It still makes me want to photograph it though. I suppose there's an outside chance I'll get 'the' picture one day.

Engine power and muscle power.

A sunny evening meant even I couldn't resist some sunset pictures. I tried to put some story into them rather than just being empty landscapes.

In an effort to make me look afresh I took out a wide angle lens. It came in useful when I couldn't go any further back without falling in a ditch to photograph yet another trailer laden with trays of seedling salad crops. I always try to avoid pointing the camera too far up or down when using a wide angle lens so as to keep the distortion effect to a minimum. At 20mm this is not too difficult to achieve, and is why I prefer not to go wider unless space makes it essential.
Summer is on its way. The cricket pitches are now in fine fettle. There's a project there, I'm sure, but it'll probably never get started beyond my random snaps as I cross the playing field to get to the moss. 

At long last I've got a picture of the egg sales with a chicken in the frame!

On the evening wander I'd spotted a tree trunk which had been dragged out of the earth and resolved to return and photograph it in close up at a later date. That turned out to be the following afternoon. It was one of those theoretically good ideas which, in my hands, turned out to be a waste of time.


 I was much happier with the photograph I took of two road cones!

In another attempt to shake things up, visually, I went to the other extreme and took my long zoom out. This isn't all that different to my usual mid-range zoom if I'm honest. Not outdoors with plenty of space at any rate. If there's room to step back there's not all that much difference between 35mm and 70mm. The extra between 150mm and 200mm at the other end isn't all that different either. Certainly not now I'm more willing to crop a little.

But when forced back against a hedge the shorter focal length would have given me more framing options. But maybe it was good to be restricted?

In my head I wanted more focal length to close in on the stacks of trays. I also thought I wanted more in focus but the stopped down version of the picture below lacked the sense of space the out of focus areas provided.

I've taken lots of photographs, quite a few I'm content with, but don't feel like they, or the project, are going anywhere. Which is a bit dispiriting. Probably going to have to be another case of  'working through' the stagnation.

Thursday, 22 April 2021

Desert Island Photo Books - 6

Sea Coal by the late Chris Killip. I've nothing to say about this other than it's bloody brilliant.Another one that would be number one if I was making this a ranked list!

Sunday, 18 April 2021

Desert Island Photo Books - 5

Ken Grant is usually associated with square format black and white photographs of Merseysiders, but Flock is a colour work recording the last days of Hereford's auction mart, the place, the auctions and the people, plus a little documentation of the new build, out of town, mart.
I first came across this work on Grant's website where it was under the heading 'The Bird House' when I was embarking on my poultry photography. It was a bit of a downer to find someone else had photographed poultry auctions, but I soon accepted that as inevitable and that I was photographing a different mart in a different way.
The book expands on the poultry auctions and shows the range of other sales which took place. Having expanded into photographing sheep sales myself I now wish there were more sheep pictures in the book!
From a point of view of this book as an object it strikes the right balance for me in terms of size at rough;y A4. Not too big to make holding it a pain in the arse, but not so small that detailed photographs don't reveal all.

A book of straightforward pictures recording something the recent end of a long era. Pictures which stand revisiting to see little things missed in previous perusals. And it fits in my theme for these desert island books, and my photobook collection in general.

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Nothing much

I've not got much to say about photography at the moment. I will have soon, but that's all I'll say for now.

Things are changing on the moss so there has been new things to photograph and variations on old things.






Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Desert Island Photobooks - 4

I was sure I'd written about book number 4 in this blog before, but the search function failed to turn anything up for either title or author. Despite my prejudice against black and white photography in the 21st century Hunting with Hounds by Homer Sykes, published in 2004, makes it to my desert island on the strength of the pictures and the subject matter. Those paying attention to my choices may have spotted a theme among my preferred subjects.

This book documents the last year that certain kinds of hunting wild animals with dogs was allowed in England. If there is a 'side' being taken it's not immediately obvious to my eyes, although the introduction is written by Roger Scruton. It is not all whippers in and stirrup cups in the gently rolling hills of Old England. There's lurcher work and ratting too.

Leaving aside ethical or political concerns surrounding the subject matter the photography is of the classic documentary type, but in square format rather than 3:2, with the subtle humour of Tony Ray-Jones and a touch of nostalgia. The nostalgic aspect is unavoidable as this is a record of the end of something in it's current form, in its legal entirety in some cases.

There are short texts at the start of each section which are invaluable to anyone who knows nothing of how hunting is/was practised. Increasingly I find that such texts are invaluable in making a photographic documentary project work for a wider audience than that of photographers and photograph enthusiasts who are concerned purely with the pictures.

As an object the book is nicely printed in a sturdy softback format. I wish more photobooks were produced this way rather than in lavish hardbacks for the simple reason that it keeps the cost down without compromising the reproduction of the pictures. This can only be a good thing for getting the pictures and the story to as many people as possible, instead of keeping it within the narrow confines of the photo-world. 

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Desert Island Photobooks - 3

Number three, and possibly number three favourite too, is a book which is unlikely to feature in any list of photobooks by members of the photobook elite. It was a  mainstream publication for one thing, there are intorductory chapters which explain almost everything, the pictures have captions and (shock, horror) there's a description of the cameras and films used. Hill Shepherd is possibly what the photobook snobs would call a middle of the road book. But John and Eliza Forder's pictures (there is no indication who took which photos) are not the sort of editorial photographs you might expect in a book like this.


Published in 1989 it was (as far as I can determine) their third book, the first in colour. The pictures in the black and white books look to me to be more in the camera club style. Very formally conservative in content and structure. The colour work in Hill Shepherd and it's follow up, Life in the Hills, are more in what I'd call 'classic documentary' in style.

Covering a the annual cycle of hill farming both text and pictures tell the story, the text including short quotes from unattributed farmers themselves. It would be all too easy for a subject such as this to be illustrated by idialised pictures, and while there is a hint of romanticism (and with the passage of time a stronger sense of nostalgia) it is tempered and not overpowering

Some pictures serve mostly as illustration or to complete the whole, but the strongest stand on their own with any of the best covering this subject or any other. Without a doubt this is one of my touchstone photobooks.