25 September, 2011
Certain places keep drawing me back time and time again to make images.
One would think that to be satisfied as a Landscape Photographer one would need to visit and make images at as many places as possible. However that has never appealed to me - at least not yet. I remember a fantastic workshop to Skye some years back where we visited a number of iconic places. I even made a couple of quite nice images of famous places, including the Old Man and Elgol beach. But for some reason, these images left me cold afterwards. Making those images didn't feel like I was investing enough of my own creativity and energy into the mix.
So I have a strange habit of returning multiple times to the same location - and that has happened with Port Mulgrave over the last 12 months.
There was one such visit a few months back with my friend Dave Tolcher that particularly sticks in my mind. It was quite windy and roasting hot, with blue sky above and we arrived late morning such that one would think the conditions for photography were at their hardest.
Yet I increasingly find that the conditions have less and less to do with how well I work - it is more about whether I am in the grove or not and the next two hours turned into a bit of a mini purple patch.
I made five images in two hours - almost off the scale for how I would normally work. The first image triggered the idea of working with shadows.
'Shadow on the boat'
The side of the boat was lovely but I noticed a line of shadow run across the boat. Then I remembered the picture of the birch tree at Padley Gorge with shadows I had made a few weeks before and thought that it would be interesting to see if I could develop the theme of a straight line with shadows some more.
Hence I setup and waited for the line of shadow to reach the point I wanted before pressing the shutter.
A short while later I found a rusty old shed with a piece of wire and decided to develop the theme even further. The following image was my first effort - an image I am very pleased with indeed.
I then followed it with a more surreal version.
'Wire Abstract #2'
Finally I decided to invert the theme and found a broken old boat with strong lines that was in shade but was partially lit by a gleam of light.
'Gleam of Light'
It is strange. I have been in some wonderful locations and lighting conditions but never felt remotely creative or felt like I was going to be productive. And yet at other times things just seem to click and the images pour out of the camera. It is hard to explain, indeed maybe it defies explanation.
However one conclusion I have drawn is that 'theme' based photography is an essential part of how I work. Not being particularly motivated at the moment to seek out and bag images of famous places or even to explore and fully document a singe place or region, one might feel that the result is a randomness to ones work.
I have found that having several themes on the go at once each of which can be developed in any session brings a structure to ones image making that otherwise would not exist. This theme based approach is I think one of the ways project oriented photography can still happen if the artist - sorry photographer (see David Wards recent blog) - like me, prefers to spend a lot of their time making creative inner landscape art.