Sunday, 5 June 2022


For whatever reason the urge to write (about anything) deserted me. Neither could I be bothered posting pictures here for the sake of it - although I have been taking plenty and posting them on Twitter. I've had a few subjects come to mind which could have been written about if only my general lethargy hadn't got in the way.

This is all a part of the confusion I have about where I, and my photographs, fit in the wide photography world. I think I've mentioned before that I don't want to be taking photographs which appeal to other photographers. That's falling into a similar trap as chasing 'likes' on social media. Or in another sphere taking photographs to win a camera club competition or a jumped up camera club competition like the RPS distinctions!

To quote Ed Smith (which I may have done before); "When you play cricket to please other people you have lost the point of playing cricket" Or words to that effect.

First and foremost I want to take my kind of photographs. Being wildly arrogant and self-important for a moment I reckon I have a pretty damned good idea of what makes a good photograph for me. And how to go about it from a technical stand point.

On that last factor I have come to realise that I'm out of step with not just the RPS and it's love of technical perfection, but also with a lot of the hobbyist photography world. It seems that whenever I give advice to beginners on the photography forum I frequent I get shot down by the resident experts.

 If you want to stop your pictures being blurred, then 99% of the time you'll need to use a faster shutter speed. I've seen it so often with photos taken by anglers I know that are blurred through camera and subject movement because a camera's (or phone's) automatic settings have selected a slow shutter speed. If the option is available (not on my phone it's not) the solution is to use shutter priority to lock in a faster shutter speed. That's why I think telling beginners to use aperture priority (which all too often sets a slow speed) is bad advice. But when I suggest it I get flamed because the experts are obsessed with controlling depth of focus. 

For years my only camera was my Pentax ME, which was aperture priority only. Yet I used it as a shutter priority camera. When I turned the aperture ring on the lens I had no idea what it was set to because I was concerned with keeping the shutter speed displayed in the viewfinder high enough to stop camera shake! If you aren't using a tripod I think this is the best approach. Especially given how high you can let ISO go in modern cameras.

I guess it's because what I think makes a good photograph is what's in the picture - the facts. For example, to me a good portrait is primarily about gesture and expression, light and depth of focus are secondary. If the gesture and expression are saying nothing great light and creamy bokeh won't save it.

I don't fit in the art world of photography either. My photos aren't what's deemed acceptable but mostly I can't be doing with taking it as seriously as seems to be necessary. I certainly can't be arsed taking myself as seriously as some po-faced photographers do. They're far too earnest for me. Pomposity has to be punctured when I see it! When it comes to documentary photography I'm out on a limb there too because I don't have the drive to push my photos to get seen by anyone who could get them out to a wider audience.

So that leaves me floundering around in my own little world, occasionally venturing into the worlds of poultry fanciers, sheep breeders, and sheep dog trialers. Which is why I've taken to posting more pics on social media after avoiding it for ever. At least that way the people in the photos get to see them. Which I think is important. Whether they like my more 'off the wall' pictures I don't know. I'm certainly not trying to make the kind of pictures of the subjects which journalists or other professionals might take. Some of my framings are still 'odd' with chopped off heads and intruding limbs. Traditional subjects shot in a different way.

Which brings me to a comment I saw reported about some photos submitted for review for an RPS 'panel'. They were deemed to be 'record shots'. Aren't all photographs 'record shots'? Can't a 'record shot' also be a good picture? What a crock of the proverbial!

I want my photographs to be records, and I want them to work as pictures. That's what keeps me taking more pictures. Striving to make pictures which work as pictures and which provide a record of what was happening. It's bloody difficult though. But if it was easy it really would be pointless!

Some more random pictures from the last few months. Kicking off with a phone snap, now I have a phone with a reasonable camera in it.




Tuesday, 4 January 2022

In the bleak midwinter

I've never been one for making plans, so no New Year resolutions for me! It's a case of carry on doing what I do and hoping something interesting shows up. not that much did during December. Dog trials were either non existent or the weather was rubbish. This coming weekend is looking equally grim in that department. It's been a case of local wanders in search of something to photograph in order to keep my eye in.

That's pretty much what I'm doing when I go for a wander. Try to make sense of what I see within the frame. If what I come home with can add to any project it's a bonus. maybe one day there will be enough to choose from to make a collection of local pictures that stands up on its own merits?

As usual my 'landscapes' always contain some element of human intervention. A rare misty morning dragged me out to the moss. While I was out there the mist was just a bit too much and wasn't for burning off. As soon as I got close to home, however... I don't know if I'm just unlucky with atmospheric conditions or I don't have the patience to wait for them to change!

There have been a few sunny afternoons to tempt me out but they rarely seem to provide me with much. When I wait for them to turn into glorious sunsets they usually do the opposite and clouds form on the horizon and it all goes to pot.

One sunny afternoon I was driving around looking for inspiration and failing to find it when I did what I often do when that happens. Go somewhere I have been lots of times before. In this case I wanted somewhere out of the wind and went to have a look at the sheep barn. It's in an even worse state now than my last visit.

Being a bit featureless it's a difficult structure to photograph, and the dark to light contrast of inside and out makes exposures tricky. It's a challenge, which is possibly why I keep going back.

Something made me think about why few hobbyist/amateur photographers do documentary type of work. It's not something that gets seen much on a photography forum I belong to. Most people take single images which fit one of the popular genres - wildlife, macro, landscape etc.

As I've always thought that wherever you live can be documented photographically it would be the obvious thing for people who take photos in their spare time to do. No need to travel hundreds of miles in the hope of the right weather conditions for a location, for example. Either pick your days, or hours, and pop out. Although given my track record of doing that maybe I'm being optimistic? That said, as with fishing, if you 'pop out' often enough you'll get lucky once in a while.

Then it dawned on me. The reason more people don't adopt a documentary approach is that it does actually take a lot of time. Not everyone can drop everything, any day of the week, and go take photographs for a few hours. I expect people with more ordered lives than mine find it easier to plan ahead to set a day aside for their photography. Even so that could still work for documenting the place you live. But all to often I see people say that where they live is boring to photograph, and familiarity breeds contempt. Maybe I just have a different way of looking at the world? I do think anything can become a subject for a photograph. It only needs putting into a context.

There also has to be a deal of commitment to carry on in the face of failure, a high degree of perseverance, to engage in documentary. Not qualities I'd ever associated myself with until someone on the forum said they admired my perseverance. I've always thought of it more as being a lack of fresh ideas. I stick with something because I can't come up with a better alternative, so my projects carry on!