Research for Beauty and the Beach…

Where am I up to? It is time to recap as there has been so much going on in preparation of the assignments for the Sustainable Prospects Module that I have paid less attention to organising the masses of information that is and will continue to be useful for the development of my Final Major Project. With two modules to go it feels a little early to be talking about this but as they say time flies and it certainly has with this module.

I have been mostly using Lightroom and on occasion Photoshop until recently. I still do but I have also been trying out the in-house MacBook Photos processing. It is limited but is also quick and easy to use. Overall the Adobe processing wins for control and quality but I appreciate the latter is great for prompt uploading to social media when used on the phone (I have not tried the Adobe packages on my phone).

I think my ‘taking’ of images is improving and hope that others see a difference from those at the start of the course too. I ‘feel’ more automatic in the process of taking in that I seem to be subconsciously setting to camera and point from where I shoot in relation to the light and composition with greater ease and more quickly. Although this may be technique emerging there is a downside in that I will have to be more consciously aware to avoid just repeating a formula and losing creativity.

I have begun to use my iphone (a ‘darkside’ acquisition this summer some might say!) to repeat shots taken with my DSLR for comparison and also when I have the wrong lens on the DSLR say for landscapes. I have not done anything with the macros lenses on the iphone recently or invested in a zoom lens for it so that will be an experimental activity for the break.

My dilemma in the past few weeks about veering more towards landscapes that I find debris in rather then the debris itself, has been subsiding a little. I am not sure if this relates to the weather and having fewer good days to get out and about and marvel at vistas or whether it is my inspiration and understanding developing in relation to articles that I find through having learned about other artists, sculptors and photographers. It is possibly a combination of both.

I have mentioned elsewhere about endless images of debris having the potential to be boring after a while and the need to develop my own unique style of presentation. To that end I have taken that thought to the beach and got down low (in the style of Andy Hughes) and found circles ( in the style of Andy Goldsworthy). I am now feeling that further experimentation ‘in the style of various artists will be formative in aspirations for my own style or niche.


Bottle Neck Sarah Newton 2017
Plastic tube on the seashore Sarah Newton 2017



It seems that I have a growing reputation for rubbish. I thank all of those who have through webinars and Instagram and other means directed me to artists, photographers and campaigns relating to debris and the environmental impact on land and in the sea that it is having. In the past few months the topic has escalated in interest with politicians and in the media. I cannot see and hear everything relating to it all of the time so such tip offs are very welcome and are being followed up.

Edward Weston’s iconic Cabbage Leaf (1931), Andy Hughes beach debris (2006) and Keith Arnatt who turned a mouldy loaf into a revered image (2014), all focussed in close on individual items, the former to show the natural beauty in food items and latter two achieving a raised public awareness of the environmental impact of rubbish through creating beauty in things that would perhaps be considered ugly and distasteful to focus on.

I am attempting to create some beauty with some of my finds. For example, having taken a green beer bottle in situ where I found it I then took it to the shoreline and watched it get knocked over by the incoming tide. The shimmering light on the water and through the green glass were mesmeric to watch as it slowly fell. I then put the bottle on a rock turning it around several times to see how it would look presented from different angles. Although not hugely successful in terms of correct exposure for strong light and blurriness as the bottle fell I was pleased. I have decided that I will continue to photograph in situ and experiment with changing locations for the items I find.


Tipping Point Sarah Newton 2017
Bottle and Rock Sarah Newton 2017

















Other people I have been following collect and display rubbish in images as one might arranging samples from a wild flower meadow for example. This approach has resulted in huge stunning and thought provoking displays by Mandy Barker whose Plastic Sea exhibition is currently showing in Dubai (2017). Mandy Barker explains in the About section of her website that:

“The aim of my work is to engage with and stimulate an emotional response in the viewer by combining a contradiction between initial aesthetic attraction along with the subsequent message of awareness…..”.

Paul Kenny (2017) creates beautiful thought provoking images with a story. Capturing things that we often pass by in land and seascapes which we have been and should take continuing responsibility for he subtly delivers impactful messages.

Doubtful of my own creative talents I cannot at this stage see myself being able to create more than very rudimentary arrays of collected debris. It is easier to envisage just focussing on individual items. However I should not avoid a challenge as it may present opportunities in directions I cannot envisage at this moment. So onwards to further experimentation with rubbish I have collected.

Sharing and Displaying
I have written about and posted here possible outlets in terms of saleable products in an task during the Sustainable Products module. I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of some actual tangible examples. I am aware of needing to ‘exhibit’ as part of the work in future modules and have been collecting inspiration for this this activity.

In Amsterdam at the Unseen exhibition I was drawn to several exhibits with my future displays in mind. In addition I saw billboard displays on the coast near The Hague that informed passers by about the problem of debris in the oceans.

Much more research is needed in this area and my views will no doubt change with enlightenment garnered through the course, visits to galleries, communication with others and depending on the debris I find in future expeditions.


Artsy. 2017. Mandy Barker-Plastic Sea. Available at: [accessed 14-12-2017].

Barker, Mandy. About. Available at: [accessed 14-12-2017].

BBC Bitesize-KS2 Art and Design- Andy Goldsworthy- Art. (2009). Available at: [accessed 14-12-2017].

Beetles and Huxley. Edward Weston’s ‘Cabbage’, an Icon of Modernist Photography. Available at: [accessed 14-12-2017].

Carson, David and Hughes, Andy. 2006. Dominant Wave Theory. London: Booth-Clibborn Editions.

Goldschmidt, Michal. 2014. ‘Keith Arnatt Pictures from a Rubbish Tip 1988-9’. December 2014. Available at: accessed [2/12/17].

Goldsworthy, Andy. Natural sculptures by Andy Goldsworthy. Melt. Available at: [accessed 14-12-2017].

Kenny, Paul. Home. Seaworks. Available at: [accessed 14-12-2017].

Focus on Women: Part 2


“Nobody ever discovered ugliness through photographs. But many, through photographs, have discovered beauty. Except for those situations in which the camera is used to document, or to mark social rites, what moves people to take photographs is finding something beautiful.” Susan Sontag 1977.

Following on from my discovery of Peter Lindberg I am reminded of some different portrayals of women. One thought I have relates to their portrayal as slaves to homemaking where men are portrayed as the dominant gender as in the book and subsequent 1975 and 2004 films The Stepford Wives and in the imagery of Joyce by Juno Calypso and comparing this to current social media trends. When I first saw Juno Calyso’s work at the Unseen exhibition in Amsterdam in September this year I was immediately taken back to the time I first saw the Stepford Wives. The image ‘Twelve Reasons Why You’re Tired All The Time’ (2013) was provocative and initially I felt uncomfortable. What was the point of it? What was it saying? Was it just making a woman seem like a robot? As I looked and saw that her images were of the character Joyce using equipment to make oneself more beautiful and appealing to men I began to realise my first reactions were missing the point.

What strikes me in the posted selfie images created by women and girls is that they have and are continuing to mould their self images to impress men. Some may have the intention of being chosen to promote and keep expensive products while others the need to be ‘liked’ and ‘followed’ for various reasons. Over coiffed, made up and dressed seductively are common themes to this trend. Needing to have such enhancements and adornments and the ability to take and post images in particular poses and locations seems to have become a lifestyle for some. On the negative side this can create pressures to keep up with school friends and women friends as well as lure the more vulnerable into more dangerous territory.

Whatever their personal reasons and needs are there seems to be an assumption that the ‘beholder’ only sees beauty in them if they adorn and pose in certain ways. It is this imagery that perpetuates the perception of the objectification and vulnerability of the female gender in relation to the assumed dominance of the male sex.

I often wonder about the lives of these people and how well or not the images reflect their real everyday lives. While I am sure that some are consumed by preparing for, taking, processing and posting images for much of their waking hours and some making a living out of the activity, others maybe are struggling behind the mask they portray. If, as I suspect this is the reality, their cameras lie (Hilton, 2008).

Calypso, Juno. 2017. London based photographer Juno Calypso talks about femininity and disappointment in a man’s world. Studio International. 08/11/2017. Available at: [accessed 11-12-2017].

Hilton, Isabel. 2008. The camera never lies. But photographers can and do. The Guardian. Available at: [accessed 11-12-2017].

Levin, Ira. 1972. The Stepford Wives. USA: Random House.

Lindberg, Peter. 2017. Shadows on the Wall. Berlin: Taschen.

Photoworks. 2016. Ideas on Talent: Juno Calypso. photoworks. 9 August 2016. Available at: [accessed 11-12-2017].

Sontag, Susan. 1977. On Photography. New York: Penguin.

Focus on Women: Part 1

“What makes a picture is the space between the two of you. It goes on, like a layer, over the face.” Peter Lindberg 2017.

I recently found the work of Peter Lindberg illustrated in the Times marking the publication of Shadows on the Wall (Taschen, £79.99). What caught my eye were the black and white images of well known women photographed without makeup and styling of hair in black and white. It was as if he had peeled the layers off these models and film stars who are most often seen by the public disguised as different characters in their films or styled and dressed for occasions and glossy publications. With minimal or no digital darkroom processing he shows the women behind their masks. The images for this book were selected from 37,000 taken for the the 2017 Pirelli Calendar. Looking further into his work I wanted to know whether his intentions had been and still are to show that these women are like most of us underneath their usual adornments, and/or whether he wanted to send a message to others about manipulating images to the extent that ordinary people would aspire to but never reach their level of flawless perfection, or some other reason. Of course it may simply be that he has found a niche and women of means are happy to pay what are presumably his high fees. If the latter is the case I understand he has to make a living and has made a name for himself but I veer in preference to the first two of my suggestions being his strongest motivators. I would like to see women without such means photographed in the same way. I was personally pleased to find in the interview with Susie Rushton she states his enduring intention and commitment to “free women from the artifice of airbrushing” (2017). Coming from a clinical career and being a mother aware of media influence on young minds I have witnessed the pressures and strains, and sometimes devastating effects that the desire to emulate can have. This has intensified as access to increasing forms of social media are perpetuating the trends in selfies and excessively adorned self promotion. Peter Lindberg states in his website biography, “This should be the responsibility of photographers today to free women, and finally everyone, from the terror of youth and perfection.”

Exploring his website and reading his biography revealed more about the man and his original intentions to be a window dresser, then becoming an artist before finding photography. Interestingly window dressing, if the human form is displayed, usually involves the latest fashions whereas in his portraiture of women the person not the clothes are the focus. The 2017 Pirelli calendar is an example of drawing attention to the women without the intrusion of their outerwear defining them and their stories. Stories are what he creates in his images which almost seem unadorned in their own right being in black and white. Without colour, interest in the face and what the image is saying to the viewer about the person seems to become clearer and intensifies the connection with them.

He is however also well known for his fashion photography and even when showcasing the latest for Vogue he shoots in black and white and against backdrops or on locations that can be naturally seen in shades of grey (industrial, bleak and deteriorating with few props). In these images attention is drawn to the clothes but not at the expense of the natural beauty of the models.

Having previously been a staunch supporter of colour in images I am not necessarily changing but coming to a realisation that black and white with the appropriate lighting and set in a complimentary context can be as and sometimes more, impactful for the viewer. As an experiment I decided to relook at a portrait I took in 2016 of my daughter when we were on a coastal walk. It was sunset and the light and slight breeze inspired me to try to capture her beauty in that moment. I have presented the original colour image and converted it in another to black and white for comparison inspired by Peter Lindberg’s portraits. Interestingly, I prefer the effect of the sunset on her face and hair in the colour image and the less intrusive and distracting background in the black and white version! If I look at each individually there is something about the black and white one which draws me in through her eyes perhaps more so than the colour version where there is a greater contrast in impact between the two eyes because of the orange glow of sunset on one side of her face. Thus in the former the subject (my daughter) and in the latter the light contrast on the subject capture my attention. I will need to think more carefully about colour or black and white and what might be not only a better way to depict something or someone from my point of view but also taking into account potential viewers perspectives.

Lindberg, Peter. Available at: 9/12/2017].

Lindberg, Peter. 2017. Shadows on the Wall. Berlin: Taschen.

Rushton, Susie. 2017. Interview: Photographer Peter Lindberg. Available at: [accessed 27/11/17).

Steep learning curve or high straight lines?

Today I became an assistant again for the second time. With Sue Brown (photographer) and Madeleine Strobel (artist and helper like me) we put up Sue’s images for her exhibition at the Devon Guild of Craftsmen which runs from 9th December to mid January 2018. Housed in a beautiful riverside building in Bovey Tracey we had a room about 15 x 10 feet with one flat wall and three solid stone and brick white painted walls. The significance of the setting soon became clear. How were we to put up several large pieces on stone and brick which was uneven and would have been challenging to drill through? Having changed Sue’s hanging plan around for fear of fixings coming loose in old mortar for the heaviest and most expensive pieces we settled on a fresh arrangement.

My steep learning curve came as Madeline opened up her tool box, an essential bit of kit for the day. I now realise that I must ask for one for Xmas if I am to be faced with such adversity and challenges as we faced today. So it has to contain a hammer, D rings, a range of screws, nails and masonry raw plugs and screws, a drill with various attachments for wood and stone and fine materials, masking tape, velcro and glue, white tack, scissors, pliers, clips to keep wires flush against walls, tape measure, spirit level, pencils, pens, paper, dustpan and brush, black rubbish bag paint brushes and white paint…..etc etc! Oh and those hanging strings with metallic hooks that can be adjusted. Most of this was used today!

The high straight lines refer to all the measuring which Madeleine was a wiz at getting the pieces to be at the right height around the room. For some of the pieces I climbed a step ladder (the height) and adjusted the string positions according to getting straight vertical lines (there were two on each of the large pieces). Everything was done to perfection including drilling to put up wooden battens on which hung the heaviest pieces and checking with a spirit level. In addition,  spots where previous exhibitors had left pencil marks or had damaged the walls were cleaned and painted  over in order to showcase the work against a pristine white background.

Of great interest was the range of surfaces on which Sue’s images were printed. These included aluminium, glass and backlit frames as well as traditional mounts in smaller box frames. I should have written down all the exact details but was busy up the ladder or sweeping the floor and for a time had to run out to a builders merchants to get a small extension and another length of plastic trunking which had to have a bit sawn off in the shop to fit in my car.

A brief stop for lunch with some great suggestions for photographers and artists who make various creations from rubbish for my Beauty and the Beach… project and back to work for the final leg and a brilliant result.

A full day with lots of problem solving and a great result for Sue Brown as well as being for me both a steep learning curve with an improved knowledge of straight lines and with how to work up high enhanced. So now I am off to write that letter to Santa…….


Attending to Andy Hughes

Andy Hughes has been recommended to me many times as people have got to know about my Beauty and the Beach… project as he has and still does create works with beach debris. He is also a leading light in Surfers against Sewage and happens to live in Cornwall, my neighbouring county. Looking for his material on line I was impressed by his website layout and the images therein. I found a second hand Dominant Wave Theory, a rather large tome produced with David Carson and illustrated with Andy Hughes images of beach debris. I understand from Instagram that he sent a copy to David Attenborough and has today posted that he received a lovely letter in thanks.

I was disappointed to have found out about Andy Hughes recent London exhibition too late to attend. I have however emailed him to introduce myself as we may meet at an event for the MA Photography course  early next year. He was kind enough to reply and say that he did not require and assistant at this time (I had enquired about gaining experience with him).

I appear to be going over old ground in the sense that I have taken images and then find that others have taken similar ones a long time before mine. Andy Hughes is another example. I wonder which I should do first, instinctively take my images then read up about other photographers or visa versa. The latter way would be to sub consciously veer toward plagiarism perhaps. On the other hand armed with knowledge about composition, light and other details of settings used by the more experienced photographer I have a greater chance of taking a better shot and the potential to take a similar object or scene with a new twist as to how it was taken and/or how it was processed.

Since viewing the images in Dominant Wave Theory and on the galleries on Andy Hughes website I have begun to get down low when taking some debris as he seems to have done. This has the effect of making a very small object large in a vast landscape and it is also interesting to see the landscape providing the context from afar rather than being a focus which happens to have a piece of debris in it. One example is of a red lighter on a beach which is lit up by natural light and possibly additional lighting to enhance its colour and form.

An image that immediately stood out for me was that of Radion 1991 taken by Andy Hughes. I took an image of a Jeyes cleaning fluid can on the beach and then in grass earlier this summer just after starting the course. His image is clear and carefully set as an orange plastic container against a dark brown background. Mine is photographed as found with not enough thought given to where my focus was when taking it. It was also tin not plastic apart from the top and to my mind very old as I have not seen a can like this since I was a child. I wonder what the back story is to its arrival on this specific beach?

I took my image again on grass having risked taking it home (it still has fluid in it). I think my second image works better, although not on the beach. It makes me challenge my self-rule to date to photograph debris in situ without disturbing it (i.e. to view it in its abandoned stage where I first spotted it) rather than setting it up to showcase the item itself.

I have noted that Andy Hughes is posting examples of new works. Some images appear to have been drawn or painted on and do have the effect of drawing me in wanting to know more about the processes he is using. Maybe I will be lucky enough to meet and ask him soon.

Sources: [accessed 2-12-2017]

Carson, David and Hughes, Andy. 2006. Dominant Wave Theory. London: Booth-Clibborn Editions.


Jeyes Fluid as found Sarah Newton 2017





Jeyes Fluid in grass Sarah Newton 2017


Finding Fay Godwin

Since starting this course I have had several people recommend Fay Godwin to me in relation to the images I have been taking and the element of activism in the messages they convey for clearing our oceans and beaches of debris. Fay (1931-2005) famously took portraits of famous authors and landscapes becoming a significant figure in the Right to Roam movement. Thus land and seascapes and contributing to raising awareness and encouraging action to redress problems are what we have in common.

I wanted to know more and after searching the internet for publications settled on The Edge of the Land published in 1995. Immediately I could see some major differences, her images being in black and white and mine in colour, but also many similarities. Her Beadnell Bay, Northumberland images and my Beautiful Beach shared a lower third of beach, upper third of sky and midline of horizontal sea. I have compared and contrasted her Zig-zag groynes, Pett Level, East Sussex with my wooden pillars on Wembury beach in my oral presentation and have noted her plastic bottle on Camber Sands, Kent as demonstrating plastics having been a problem for many years.

Putting my preference for colour aside I have been looking more closely at Fay Godwin’s compositions and use of light. A few images appear to adhere to the rule of thirds (such as the beach and sea on the horizon images). However in the main she uses leading lines to take you into and through her images (e.g. Lewis, Outer Hebrides; Umbrellas, Dungeness, Kent). I do not know enough about the equipment and exposure settings she used but can see that she has achieved a good balance of light and dark in many images. There is still visible detail in the sky and the land. This is something I need to work on and perhaps in theory should be finding this easier with a DSLR. It it is all to do with weather conditions and time of day as well as filters and exposure times and having these all come together in the right location at the right time to get the right shot is my challenge, and will need to be planned for.


Godwin, Fay. 1995. The Edge of the Land. London: Jonathan Cape, Random House.


Beadnell Bay, Northumberland Fay Godwin 1995







Beautiful Beach Sarah Newton 2017


Post script: How helpful it is to share images with others. Since publishing this post my omission in not comparing my portrait view with Fay Godwin’s landscape presentation of beaches in these image has been pointed out. Overlooking the obvious is something I must try to avoid!.

It does raise an important point for me in so far as images should  give an indication of the photographer’s viewpoint and intentions to convey some meaning or story and this may mean that at times these are at odds with the viewers expectations and prior experiences and preferences. For example, I was attracted to the lines and patterns in the sand that lead to the sea and wanted to portray these. I cannot say what Fay Godwin’s intentions were but if I may suggest an interpretation, her images of Beadnell Bay may have been taken with the intention of depicting the vast breadth and depth of the vista before her rather than the more immediate details of the surroundings. Something to bear in mind on my  future seascape adventures.

What is in a bubble?

While preparing my images of Amsterdam for a presentation I took a closer look at the details in one image of the Rijks Museum where I had briefly stopped to watch a street artist make huge bubbles. I have also taken bubble images in other destinations in the past. To my surprise I noticed I had captured the faces of other onlookers in the bubbles, some of whom were taking photographs of the same man and his bubbles. The afternoon light and my positioning appeared to be conducive to bringing out a range of colour effects that made the images intriguing. I was fortunate to have reasonably exposed images which allowed close cropping of an otherwise large image. Enthused by the discovery I went onto look at other images taken at the same time. The result of the search for faces in the bubbles produced a small collection of images.

One of my favourites from this discovery is this young man and the Real American Hot Dog advert with stars and stripes of the flag in the background. It reminds me of images of James Dean in the 1950s. The passers by and the photographer (who may well have caught me in their images!) ground the image in the genre of street photography and not just portrait. The Moviepix image for the film Rebel without a Cause 1955 shows a striking resemblance to my image.

In trawling for faces I also noticed that there were some bubbles containing reflections of the landscape. I was amazed to see how the landscape was distorted in different ways according to the size and shape of the bubbles and the wide range of colours each one contained.

I love the colours and the swirling landscape in these bubbles and the more neutral background. Unfortunately there is some fogging on the lower left corner and across diagonally from left to right which may have been a bubble but could also have been an effect of light on my lens.

I have shared these images for comments with my tutor and friends who have been similarly intrigued and positive about the effects. I had been a little apprehensive in sharing them as I had felt a child-like excitement with this discovery and wondered if the images would be seen and dismissed as child’s play not worthy of accolade as good or even great photography.

Since then I have been researching the internet for bubble making tackle. My intention is to take this to the beach and see if I can take images of debris and landscapes through bubbles. As I and my tutor noted the oily effect of the bubble liquid on the images has a level of symbiosis with the movement of water on the shores.

During this experience I wondered whether others have created portraits or landscapes in this way before. I had noticed images where a glass or crystal ball has been used to capture landscapes on Instagram and liked these. I had also experimented with taking images through a wine glass briefly some time ago. There are plenty of sources for crystal balls some of which claim to have healing properties as well as being an asset for photographers (added value!). In addition, the large multiple bubble makers are available as multiple bubble garland wands or try string if you want to make one huge creation. I hope to try making a garland wand an am realising I may need an assistant to operate it while I take the photographs.

I have now discovered Richard Heeks who has found fame with his bubble photography. This article gives a couple of his tips relating to the consistency of the bubble solution, the time of day with regard to light and the background for the bubbles, all good information for my future experiments. His images include landscape as do mine and are taken in natural light as mine will be on the beach. His are carefully composed to include the immediate surroundings (e.g. patio doors) as well as the landscape in the distance. I like the way many of the bubbles contain a double image giving a symmetry and reflective feel to the composition. In contrast my interest is not just in perfect sphere shaped bubbles but the long undulating and distorted shaped ones. In his interview he explains that he takes thousands of images to get the exact moment he strives for. I will have to be well prepared for my experimentation with extra batteries and memory cards.


Yoo, Alice. 2013. Magical Reflections on Soap Bubbles. My Modern Met. 20th January 2013. Available at: . [accessed 04-12-2017].

Rahman,Khaleda. 2015. Is James Dean’s ‘cursed’ Porsche about to be found? On the 60th anniversary of the actor’s death, man claims he saw wreck of the car that killed the star being hidden away when he was a boy. DAILYMAIL.COM. 30th September 2015. Available at: [accessed 04-12-2017].

Week 8: Tell a story

This week we were asked to submit 5-7 images that tell a story and receive and give feedback on our own and those submitted by others..

I chose to use images I took recently while on a visit to the Incinerator in Plymouth (research for my project on beach debris). I asked permission of the tour leader and the attendees explaining that I was taking images for my project. I was then asked to take images of the tour for the visitors who were all members of a U3A group with it in mind to be shared and used on their website. I thought about this as the introductory talks were going on and realised that my intentions for images were somewhat different to those that were being asked for by participants. In processing the images I selected out those for participants and those I was personally interested in which roughly divided into those with people looking at things and those that were looking at the interesting structures in the buildings and technology therein.

In selecting images for this exercise I have thought about story telling as in a local newspaper. There was a lot of contention when this Incinerator was built, especially being so close to housing. MVV Environment Ltd have opened the doors to visitors and regularly run educational visits in part consolidating acceptance of the plant in the community. My intention is to depict a visit in a way that will encourage others to visit as well.

Initially I was conscious of making images with people larger for local human interest and found that subconsciously I was positioning controversial aspects of the plant (the air filters and chimney where noise and poisonous pollutants and were thought to be potential hazards when it was built) as smaller images and lower down in the story. Perhaps this stemmed from my own enjoyment of the visit and the great job the leader did in explaining that these potential hazards have been minimised to acceptable levels. I have since reviewed the sizing to be less obviously differentiated.

Thinking about captions, as local newspapers seem to like these, I have thought of the following.

Togged and ready to tour

Bringing your rubbish in

Dropping rubbish into the incinerator

Fascinating control centre

In the turbine hall

Very quiet air filters

17 stories of high-tech processing




Week 5: Meet someone new

Week 5 Meet someone new
We were asked to meet someone new as we went about our daily business and ask them about their locations, what they notice and what this makes them feel. We then had to take images from their perspective, show them to the person and receive their comments as a way of learning about others views and developing a “collaborative model” for our own work. A model that is inclusive and engaging of others this being “one that can perhaps present people in more inclusive, complex, and empowering ways.”.

My meeting was not with someone absolutely unknown to me in that we are are on the same online course and have realised that it would be possible to meet up given the proximity of our home locations. We arranged to meet at a beach side location this being changed at the last minute as a consequence of finding out the tea room would be closed. We moved to a nearby National Trust property and met in the tea room there. This being a first meeting we had not made firm plans to go beyond a coffee but in the event agreed it was a nice day and a walk would be a good idea especially as we had established that we are both interested in natural landscapes. I picked up on comments in our questions and discussions over coffee that there was a strong interest in the colours and lights of autumn, this being a favourite season as it is mine. I wondered to myself whether our likes and preferences may have been too similar for this exercise? I also noted a tinge of disappointment that you may have missed the best colours of the season. While I took images when we walked and stopped to look at views I was not sure I had captured ones that may have been from your perspective. I was lapsing into my research project world of spotting debris as we were by an estuary. After we had said our goodbyes and having reflected for a moment while in the little shop, I decided to take myself into the more formal gardens of the property and focus on seeking out images that might meet the approval of my course colleague in playing to their preferences. The tree and close ups of leaves were taken at this point. I emailed these along with an image of  Birch tree polypore fungi I had taken when we both stopped to take this and a large group of Sulphur Tuft mushrooms. In addition I could not resist taking an image of a squirrel I spotted in the gardens. I thought this represented autumn although the vibrant leaf colours were not present. I also wondered what the reaction to this image would be but was more interested in the response to the autumn colours images.

I was pleased to have a great response “All of the images you have sent definitely show autumn to me.” The images received not only individual responses/reactions but I was also given advice about using light and getting in closer to an image which will be very useful to bear in mind in my work.

Reflecting on this exercise I think it could have been very different had I approached someone new rather than a course colleague who is a photographer. Our common preferences for autumn and interests including our research projects which both relate to nature and outdoor landscapes, may have resulted in too much synchronicity and not enough challenge in seeing another person’s point of view. Having said that I enjoyed the challenge, it was great to meet a colleague as our course is online and hopefully we can meet up with other colleagues in our area and gain from each others perspectives and experiences on mini field trips in the future. I may try this exercise again with someone I have not met before.

Thank you to my course colleague… know who you are!

The comments I received are set against the image they refer to below:

“The close up of the leaves (1st image) show the change of season and really like the shaped you managed to capture in this in image. The other image almost shows the process of the leaves loosing their colour before falling from the tree – both of these couldn’t have been taken at any other time.” Great compliments to receive for my homage to autumn colours. There is a suggestion in the feedback of a slight preference for the 4 leaf image and I agree. It was far more interesting for me to try to position myself in relation to the light in order to show the veins as well as the colour of the leaves and I think the result provides a focus for a viewer to consider. In contrast the second image is busy and your eyes dance back and forth without a main agenda item to focus on.

“The photo of the tree loses some of colour I was talking about ……….but this was because the light was very flat that day but there is some wonderful light on the base of the trees looking through them.  It is a nice image and I think another a little closer concentrating on this light would have also made a nice photo.” Yes I can see and agree with what is being said here.  I wonder whether a crop as well so that the leaves are in the upper third, the trunks in the middle third and grass in the lower third as well as waiting to see if the light improved as late afternoon approached would be a good idea.

“I think the photo of the squirrel is just great, this is the sort of photo that would be shown on BBC Autumn watch, captures the season perfectly.” Wow! What a compliment. I take great joy in capturing wildlife but am only a beginner technically so my images although they are  gradually improving (to my mind) are nowhere near a standard required for professional airing. So this is a real confidence boost.

“The Fungi on the tree was maybe my least favourite, still an interesting image, and one I think reveals more the more you look at it.” I wondered why this was the least favourite image, perhaps lack of vibrant colours, perhaps my composition (the image could have been cropped so that the fungi was in the centre), or maybe fungi which is intrinsically linked with autumn in my mind is not a feature that my colleague usually focuses on especially as they tend to take images of wider views of landscapes. I will try to remember to ask them….

Week 5 Networking Part 2

An update on my networking last week:

  • I attended two exhibitions in the South Hams Arts Trail. One at South Brent which I attended to see the work of Graham Gilbert Photographer as he focusses on the natural world including landscapes, describing his work as impressionistic and other-worldly. I liked some of the images for their beautiful colours and their clarity. However some I felt were not composed as I would perhaps have taken them. I will be finding out more about his work. He was exhibiting alongside his wife who paints and draws contemporary landscapes, Colin Ross whose work in wood (furniture and smaller pieces) was stunning, Suzi Davies who hand hooks organic materials to make baskets, book covers etc and Guilia Matthews who makes pretty ceramic and willow weave creations. In addition a natural stone jewellery maker was manning the show and making his wares while I was there. I was tempted to buy some of the ceramic pots and woven goods to start Xmas shopping but resisted the urges!.
    SHAF Arts Trail

    SHAF Arts Trail
  • The second I attended in Yealmpton to see the work of Diane Fifield (floral art and nature photographer). Her macro images of flowers are beautiful and she has on on the cover of a recent IGPOTY book. She was exhibiting with a ceramicist Teresa Barlow who focuses on fun creations relating to the circus and Jane Davarian who paints, draws and uses various methods of printing. I spoke to Teresa and Jane who were encouraging me to join South Hams Arts Forum. I subsequently obtained the joining information and am considering whether my work is worthy in comparison with the stunning creativity I have seen in these exhibitions and at Unseen.

    SHAF Arts Trail
  • I have not heard back from Monika Fischbein yet and need to check I used the right email for her.
  • I have sent a query to the AOP requesting information as to when our course will be added to their list of approved Falmouth courses for student membership.
  • I have entered the RPS monthly competition on landscapes and the IGPOTY competition in the category taken at Kew.