Septuagenarian Photographer, Writer

Posts from the ‘Words and Pictures’ category

The Knife Angel

In Derby city, in front of the cathedral, 29th October 2109

 The Knife Angel was created by Alfie Bradley at The British Ironwork Centre, a family run business based in Oswestry. The team at the Ironworks, along with the artist, created the Angel sculpture completely out of knives, to bring the issue of knife crime to the front of society’s consciousness.  The team created 200 knife banks, which were distributed across the country to collect knives, many of which had been used in crimes.
Alfie disinfected every blade of the thousands of weapons that came in. Some were still in evidence tubes with bodily fluids on their surface. He blunted each knife before welding it onto the sculpture. The wings were created using the blades only, creating a feather like appearance.
One of the most powerful, emotional pieces of sculpture I have ever seen.

The Beast Within

I’ve been neglecting my photography lately, as I get further into writing my novel. Back into the studio today, newly energised, working with a new (to me) model, Joel. A fantastic young man, a fun day and lots of help as usual from David at Studio 3 by Severn.

Zebra Crossing

In April this year, I had the pleasure of judging a photography competition at the Nottingham Outlaws Photographic Society. I was more than a little surprised when this photograph popped up on the screen.

It really tickled my fancy, as I have never seen a show-jumping zebra! You’ve probably guessed what I failed to see on the night – it’s a very clever composite, created by Lois Webb! Below is a low-res version of the original picture and the zebra picture Lois used as inspiration in transforming the horse into a zebra.

Composites are one of my photographic passions, and Lois remarked, “I consider it a feather in my cap that you didn’t recognise my composite as such.” I think she deserves a handful of feathers for the great work she did on her picture.

The irony is, if I had recognised it as a composite, Lois would have had a much better score!


Homage or Plagiarism?

After a recent portraiture session in the studio, where I used a lot of masks I had made for the occasion, I was discussing how I might present them with Jan and she suggested combining several heads in one shot. Mulling it over, I remembered the iconic Queen album cover and decided on a similar treatment for Masquerade, as you see above.
It has now been suggested to me that perhaps I may have plagiarised the original artwork which, I hasten to add, was not my intention. In the past, I have often used Old Masters for inspiration, as in my previous post about Death of a Gangster, and considered it to be an homage. After all, as Picasso memorably said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal”. I don’t take this literally but interpret it as meaning that you should learn from those who came before you.
Perhaps I’m wrong …

Death of a Gangster

This is one of the most frustrating pictures I have ever produced. I planned it meticulously, basing the central pose on Michelangelo’s statue, “La Pieta”, and researching Renaissance painting before translating the story into a modern setting. I organised the models into a classic triangular shape, and instructed them on how each one should react to my prompt.
There are a very few touches added to the original photograph, such as the hint of a storm in the top right of the frame. I loved the colour and the drama of it and couldn’t wait to enter it into a Salon.

Readers, it bombed.

For a whole year, I sent it out, both this version in colour and an alternative monochrome rendering. I was just about to close off my FIAP list at the end of last year, when its first acceptance ever crept in. So I drew a line under it after that and consigned it to the archives. I know when I’m beaten.

20th February 2019. In the light of the comments below, I have added the monochrome version for comparison. On checking my records, I see that the monochrome version was the one accepted into the Salon.

Going for Gold

The mammoth task that is compiling records, creating proof sheets of the 55 images below and loading award-winning images on CD – all in pursuit of the accreditation EFIAP/Gold – is now finished. After I post it all off tomorrow, all I can do is wait, with bated breath (what is bated breath?), to find out if I have been successful. This will take a few months so, while I’m waiting, let’s see what the requirements are for the Platinum level …..

Taking a Photograph … and … Making a Picture

Although I spend a lot of time creating composites, I also enjoy portraiture work. On being asked recently how much work goes into a portrait, I replied, “Very little”. But, as often happens, that little question stuck in my mind and, conscious of how time can fly by when I’m engrossed in working on my computer, I decided to keep a record of just how many steps it required to move from “taking” a “photograph to “making” a picture.

This photograph of Mason, complete with clown make-up and wearing a bowler hat, had been lit in exactly the way I wanted it and then with the ‘right’ lens so, having ten minutes to spare, I thought I would just ‘tickle it up’ a little bit. Frame 1 in the screenshot below is the original RAW file in Lightroom, where I adjusted exposure etc fractionally. All other frames are either in Photoshop or Silver Efex. By taking a screenshot every time I made an adjustment, I soon realised that my spare ten minutes had stretched into an hour.

For a while now, I have been carrying out dodging and burning by using the Curves tool. For instance, to lower the whiteness of Mason’s shirt, adjusted in a Curves layer, reversed the mask and painted in the area required. By doing this, I accumulate quite a few Curves layers which require precise naming, if I want to back and adjust them. Frames 2 -8 are records of just such adjustments, as well as a mini crop, enhancing the black lines and painting in the rim of the hat. Frame 9 is a flattened layer, where I used the healing brush and the clone tool to neaten up the image. Frames 10 – 11 are where I copy-pasted a small section of the hat brim, reversed it and added to to the other side of the hat where there had been a break in the fabric.

Frames 12 – 14 are a series of small adjustments in Liquify where I gave Mason’s mouth a bit of a down-turn, narrowed his eyes a little and changed his jawline, all in pursuit of making him appear a little meaner. Frame 15 – 16 reflect an excursion into Silver Efex to render the image into monochrome. Once this had been saved back into Photoshop as a layer, I masked off all of it except Mason’s face, making the ‘whiteface’ more startling.

The strangely coloured swirls in Frame 17 are a picture of waste printers’ ink I took many moons ago when I was gainfully employed. I overlaid this as a layer, choosing Pin Light at 45% and masking off Mason’s face to give the effect you see in Frame 18. Mason’s eyes are heterochromatic (one is green, the other is brown) and Frame19 is a Curves layer to enhance the colour … Frame 20 is the finished article.

As I said, just a bit of a tickle up …

The Many Faces of Jay

Jay is many things … an actor, a model, an entrepreneur, a man who makes things happen and a dead pirate captain. This is a small selection from a morning in the studio with Jay, some are composites and some are pretty well straight from the camera, and all are a reminder that you just never know what is going to happen in the next few hours.

Clockwise from the top: Haunted by the Past, Rings On My Fingers, Don’t Give Up On Me (with Amanda Sills), Looking Back, What Shall I Knit Next? and Born to Rock.

Bring in the clowns …

… well, there ought to be clowns, no?
Meet Martyn and Mason, admittedly not quite your usual fun-filled entertainers, and perhaps more the stuff of nightmares than likely to raise a chuckle, but – you know – I think they’re more likely to stick in your mind than the last time you saw clowns at a circus. Just don’t upset them …..

No More Mr Nice Guy

%d bloggers like this: