Saturday, 12 December 2015

Test:bed 2015 Climate Change - Exhibition

Just today I'm sure we are all well aware of the Climate Change and how we need to take action now in the World due to many factors that need our foremost attention urgently. (COP21)

I have been delighted to be involved in a small way through an exhibition on the climate change here in the North West of England.  With Test:bed which was an informal evening of art and critical discussion, premised on the theme of Art and Ecology in a global and local context.

There were eleven artists involved in the evening whose work was in many different forms but all spoke of different aspects found within the environment amoung the ever changing events taking place globally that ring out alarm bells.  

The event took place at Abingdon Studios in Blackpool on 10-12-15. 

On the Monday I handed in my work for the show only to return the next day to hand in my bigger prints as I did that I was able to see some other work layed out for the exhibition it was exciting.  
My big photos had been exhibited early in the year at the University Centre in Blackpool where I undertook my degree.  However this exhibition was in a different scale due to climate change and it couldn't have come at a better time as where I live ten miles away from Kendal the town badly affected by Storm Desmond.  

It was a week of chaos on the run up to the exhibition due to the localised flooding many roads closed nearby to where I live small villages flooded too, no power for 36 hours only for it to go off again seemed unimaginable at the time, but my thoughts were with those families in Kendal who lost so much.

As the days moved past slowly I began to get excited about the exhibition with 'Test-bed' but on the other hand I wasn't too sure what to expect.  That evening I drove over to Blackpool for the Private Viewing I was exhibiting with my friend Marianne Van Loo whom I studied with at the local college.

Abingdon Studios is set in the heart of the town of Blackpool a real hub in the right place, as I arrived i could hear people talking and saw they were quite busy already.  Marianne rushed over to walk with me so I could see my work up on the wall beside hers it was a lovely feeling to see this us both sharing our work for others to see yet to talk loud and clear about the environment.

Marianne's work was taken in Gurgagon in a new town south of Delhi they were outstanding images which shared the ongoing changes within that town.

As the evening began to slowly pass I took a walk to look at the other artists work it was all outstanding indeed.

My work was well received and lots of positive feedback given it was encouraging.  It was encouraging to hear what people said about my work some noticed it was analog and they asked questions about where the photos were taken along with what kind of camera and where I sourced the film.

As people walked through the small doorway to see my work they just stood transfixed it was interesting to watch people's faces and it was moving to me as an artist.  Some people asked is this yours? And I'd politely say yes it's mine and they said "it's fantastic" I just smiled and watched as they looked on.  It was well received.  

It seemed like their is a real need to show the World something different something they've not looked at in a long time and I'm sure this exhibition portrayed that in many different aspects.  To create an awareness of the ongoing changes locally and globally within our climate which need our full attention. 

It was an honour to be involved in this exhibition with Test-bed and to Ann Carragher the curator who did a wonderful job throughout the whole event.  

Below is some of my work that was on show.

   Brett Blundell looking on at my exhibited work.

     Marianne beside her exhibited work. 

Photos below curiosity ©Marianne Van Loo

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Duaflex II / ReflexBrownie 2 (my two new cameras)....

Before I begin to share its important that you can see these beautiful cameras just to give you an idea of what I've been working with... 

A few weeks ago I put some film through both cameras, which I call tester films to see if they're working and to see the finished results.

When doing a tester film one just photographs anything really to see if it's worth while but my faith was in these little gems.  I had high hopes that they would produce stunning photos with an old feel which could contain anything from dust marks to scratches on the images which I firmly believe should remain on the finished prints.  Why do I think those marks should be seen?  I like to not only give the feeling of something old but I like to show the truth as those marks are on the cameras it's not really on the films themselves I just feel they give a more interesting finish to the photographs.  If you've ever seen photos printed from such cameras you will understand the whys.

As I sit at my computer and look at these photos from the tester films it's just unbelievable to be honest and I have to say having shot and I still do shoot digital but film there is something so special about it, nothing beats it.  I just find it hard to express in words just how film is the silver lining in photography.  It is an expensive process but worth every penny when you see the finished result. 

Quite simply I love film especially with these old vintage cameras as I never thought I'd hold one never mind take photos with them.  They are interesting to use and a learning curve too as I take different photos with them it's a challenge to know what works and what doesn't.

You will see from the new photos below why I'm saying that! 

Duaflex II - photos below.

M6 Link Road still being built.
guess I got a bit carried away here shooting the same landscape....

The photo above is quite interesting the sky is overexposed the colours look like the saturation is too much but it's a straight photo I've not edited it yet.

This photo above well when I was talking the film out it was a bit on the loose side so hence the light streaks.  It was interesting indeed but next time I must ensure the film is tightly on the take-up spool.

Duaflex II Black and White film. 

I'm really encouraged at the sharpness of some of the photos from the Duaflex II. 

Reflex Brownie Two.

So many photos this time I hope your enjoying them... It's interesting to see the difference between both cameras as you can see some photos repeated I did that on purpose to see what the difference would be.... 

Now I guess I need to move on and take these cameras with as I continue to walk in Hardmans footsteps.  


Tuesday, 6 October 2015


This past week has been filled with absolute joy and it's been an amazing eye opener too.  

For my birthday a week past Sunday my best friend gave me two lovely vintage cameras yes you read it correctly.  I am now the proud owner of a DurflexII and another Brownie Reflex.  Little did my friend know that I'd wanted a backup Brownie Reflex camera so to receive this was just beyond words.

Sunday morning arrived as I sat on my bed with my presents and a nice cup of coffee I began to open my presents saving the big box for last.  I didn't know what it was but I knew in my heart if it was what I thought it was my heart would overflow.  As I began to pull at the sellotape and open it slowly I saw there was a camera as I lifted it out happy tears began to fall.  Then I pulled out something else it was brown and felt heavy it was another camera a Brownie Reflex I had no words other than "thank you" which seemed like small words not big enough to say how I really felt about this beautiful gift.

I ordered film for both cameras and the day I received the film yes I went out to capture somethings with the cameras I just had too as was so excited.

These past few days I've spent testing the cameras yes they work but it's the finished results I'm excited about now.  You all already know that I've used a reflex before but the mystery remains with the DurflexII I have no idea what that little camera produces it will be interesting.  Looking through the viewfinder on the DurflexII is beautiful in many ways and holding the camera too is a joy, I referred to it as Magical and it is indeed.

The films have been sent off so now I'm waiting to get the negatives the next blog will be underway soon.... 

Below are my new cameras...  I love them.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Seeing the Truth

A few weeks ago I finally took a trip down to Ludlow Castle which was somewhat a long journey 7 hours round trip dare I say.  It was a beautiful trip in itself.  The weather kept changing as I got nearer from dull weather to sunshine then to dark clouds in the distance, I honestly didn't know what to expect so was hoped for the best.

Excitement was bubbling up inside me because I could only relate to the photo I saw of Hardmans of the Castle, and from that it looked beautiful although taken many years ago. 

While I did research on this particular image that Hardman took I noticed quite a number of issues, well that's one way to put it.  And I wondered what was the best way to approach these issues in the best way possible to avoid conflict.  Many thoughts ran through my head.

However as I got nearer to the town of Ludlow all those thoughts ran out of my head as simply one couldn't wait to walk in his footsteps and see the changes from then till now a mere 60 years later...
The minute I arrived at Ludlow the heavens opened and a huge downpour of rain, I'm not joking it was throwing it down I had to shelter under a tree....with all my camera gear thankfully I hadn't got the cameras out.

Then I began to dodge the rain as I wanted to get through the town to the castle, within a matter of ten minutes I stood at the entrance of the Castle immediately I knew this was a special place.  It was just beautiful.  

It continued to rain I went to the cafe inside the castle and got some green tea and I began to think how was I going to capture this in the rain, deep inside I wanted the rain to stop soon as I'd traveled such a long way.  The waiter chatted with me and I politely asked if he could tell me if the rain would stop, he went to enquire, then returned and said it should stop that afternoon so I began to plan more and with the hope I could stand at the very same spot where Hardman stood all those years ago.

So after sitting for about 45mins the rain didn't give up but it became more like drizzle so I decided to make a go of it.  The walk was just five mins downhill to the other side of the bridge.

When I got there it was just breathtaking as the castle is set on top of a steep rockface with the river Teme flowing below it, I'm being honest it was beautiful and one could understand why Hardman photographed it in the first place.  I had to walk around quite a bit to find the same spot where Hardman once stood, it was overgrown with bushes so I had to do with what was the nearest.

I looked around at the scene before me and yes they're were lots of changes in the growth of the foliage in front of me, you will see when you compare the photos.

After getting everything set up the rain started again so I sheltered under some trees...I waited and waited.  About ten mins passed and it stopped so I got everything set up again and began to shoot my images.  

The Bridge over the River Teme was Hardmans main focus of the composition and was reflected on the river whereas the Castle fades into the background surrounded by I aimed to do the same not sure if I'd get the bridge reflected on the river...

     The photo below is used by the kind permission of The Hardman's Trust.
    ©Edward Chambre Hardman 

Hardman did extensive retouching to this particular image - above the right hand side of the bridge where a row of houses have been taken out making the scene seem timeless.  Hardman wrote of the finished image, 

     "one might be back hundreds of years, no Pythons, no telephone wires, no obvious tourists".  

As I stood and looked at what was before me and compared Hardmans image to today I could see where changes had taken place since then and now....not a huge amount but enough growth in the landscape was noticed.  And maybe a few more houses as well.  As I looked and pondered the thought that Hardman wanted the photo to look timeless but to me it did that very day I stood on the banks looking down towards the river yet looking up towards the castle...  I couldn't understand really the whys and how he chose to remove the houses.

Seeing Hardman did manipulate the image the one question I had was so do I do the same it played on my mind a lot that day and I didn't have an answer.  I was just to captivated with what I saw before me, and I wanted to capture what I was seeing with the Brownie Reflex Camera.

I took several shots and moved around quite a bit but kept my main focus on the bridge with the castle in the background... It was just so unreal to be standing there where Hardman stood and to see and feel from deep within in some way the joy he might have had upon discovering this beautiful piece of History yes I want to call it History as that's what it is...

After taking the photos I was so curious that i took a tour inside to discover more for myself, I wished I could have imagined it in its full glory as today it's just the shell of its former self but worth the trip oh yes and I'd gladly go again.  I could write about the history of the castle but my blog isn't about that it's about walking in Hardmans footsteps to talk about the changes from when he took the photos to how I see the changes from then till now.

As I traveled home those questions resurfaced again why did he change the photo?  Was it necessary? As when I was doing my degree we were taught only to change the photo if needed but we were encouraged to keep them pure as close to the truth as possible.  Just small adjustments on the curves or to lighten it up...or to remove dust marks.   They taught us well at Blackpool dare I say.

A few weeks have passed now since that trip and my films came back from the developer and again I thought what do I do...I asked a friend and he simply told me don't manipulate the photo keep it pure as you are talking about the changes from then till today, it was like he reigned me in as that's what I'm in my part NO photo manipulation has taken place.

He also told me about a big debate going on about photo manipulation and why it is wrong...I have to say I do agree it's wrong as we all want to see the truth in what we see.  

                                       "If we lie with our work what's the point"?

                 "What's the point of showing our work and getting credit for it if it's not the truth".  

It is a difficult one really... When we look at the media around us from day to day do we really see the truth? Or is it covered up?  While I was doing my degree were taught in critical studies to learn to read into an image to try and tell the story that was in front of us to take it apart and make sense of it.  Sometimes we could do it but sometimes if we missed even the tiniest detail it could throw us off track.  What I'm trying to say is we need to see the images as the true story the truth and nothing else. And if something is taken away it might make us miss-read the whole scene, the story within the image.

I guess we all can decide for ourselves what the rights and wrongs are of covering up images but as professionals what is really the right way forward?  I will enclose the links below to this particular debate as I feel every photographer needs to be aware...of the hidden truths...

Let's get back to Ludlow Castle....
I shot two films that afternoon before heading back home it was a fantastic day even though nearly rained off but I got the photos... The photos are below and you will see the changes between my photos and Hardmans - more over grown trees and the landscape has grown too plus you'll notice the houses.

Your feedback is most welcome.  The images are shot with a Box Brownie Reflex from the 1940's.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

New photos

At long last the postman delivered my recent photos from my journey in Hardmans footsteps.
These photos were of where the Ark Royal once stood along with a trip across the Mersey, quite a mix of different areas within Liverpool where Hardman photographed his own city and surrounding areas.

I remembered the day like it was yesterday as when one looks at their photos it brings back memories / events where really are from the yesterdays.

It was great to view these new photos as I'm always pleased with the outcome of the photos from the Brownie camera, it delivers and delivers well dare I's a great little camera which gives me joy.

I don't want to bore you with writing lots so I'll share the photos so you can see where I've been, on my journey.

    Where the Ark Royal was once seen in the distance. 

I took several shots of this viewpoint trying to get it spot on...see below...little snapshots. 

The same view from higher up looking out from a block of flats.

I then took the ferry ride across the Mercy - Hardman did the same thing but he was able to capture children on the way to school in the 1950's.  However on the day I traveled only adults were present but it was a great ride.  The ferry was different to when Hardman traveled on the ferry, so it wasn't easy to try to re-create his photos from then till now, but it's interesting seeing how things have changed.

Upon arrival at the ferry terminal, I ventured out like everyone else but before settling off looking for the World Museum in Liverpool, I needed a coffee so I sat down looking at the river and at then I heard some young guys making such a racket behind me that I turned to look and see what was going on, I decided to snap them as I don't have many photos of people with my Brownie so below is what I got...

So when refreshed I continued on my journey looking for the World Museum, see photos below of the view from the Museum.  Remember I'm trying to re-create the very places and photos where Hardman once stood to photograph them.

Mr Hardman also captured a statue near by the Museum, he was really interested in the details found within the statue and the beauty.  I'll let you be the judge of that...

There are a few more photos but I feel the above is enough for now, all the photos are pure no editing has been done.

Tomorrow I will journey on to Ludlow Castle to capture the castle as Hardman captured it, I will do my's a very beautiful castle.  So a new blog is coming soon.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015


It seems like a few weeks have passed since my last blog.  I'm still awaiting on the return of my films, which should be any day now.  

Another day has gone and I'm still waiting.  Sometimes it's kinda slow moving this project and I wonder if it's worth going on with it, I wish I had the film really available here and the resources to develop and scan the negatives myself.  I guess I need motivation and encouragement at times.

In the mean time I do plan a trip to capture the bridge and castle at Ludlow in Shropshire, but I need to plan that well as its a three hour drive / six hour round trip but maybe longer depending on traffic.

So I am awaiting on my films coming back....soon I hope.

Below is a screen grab of the castle at Ludlow in Shropshire.  It's a gem so beautiful. 

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

The Ark Royal

Just last week I traveled over to Birkenhead in Liverpool to capture where Hardman took his most iconic photo of the Ark Royal.  

When I arrived in Liverpool City I jumped on the tube which took me to Green Lane when I got off the tube suddenly I realised they were doing work on that station so I had no-one to assist with directions so quickly one grabs their phone to Google maps....I found the steep path leading to Holt Hill slowly I began the climb dare I say.  I was in my element walking up that path as knowing what I would see when I got to the top.

At the top of the hill it was like an island in the middle of the road this is where Hardman stood all those years ago, I don't think it was an island then!  I began snapping away to my hearts content, suddenly I heard a man shouting so I looked up at the apartments on my right and sure enough the man asked what was I doing so I shouted back but he couldn't understand me...maybe my Scottish accent.

This is the first photo I took with my phone. It's looking towards where Hardman took his most iconic photo in the 50's.

Looking towards where the Ark Royal once stood.

Then I got my Brownie out and began to take more photos unaware that the man was still watching from the balcony, he shouted again asking what camera I was holding, he seemed genuinely interested so I told him.  About twenty minutes passed he shouted down you should see the view from up here you can see all of the River Mersey and offered if I wanted to go up and take some photos.

Normally I like to work quickly and quietly so I can concentrate but with someone shouting back and forward is a huge distraction.  So I continued to take the photos.

The above was shot with my Nikon I now await on the photos from the Brownie.

Suddenly I accepted this mans offer to go up and see the view but was very cautious because I don't know the area and if it was safe to do so, I had my wits about me if you know what I mean...true to what I saw when I was standing looking down across the river from the balcony it was beautiful.  This man was genuinely interested in what I was doing...His living conditions said a lot about him I wished I had spare time to question him about his life as everyone has a story and I would have liked to have photographed him in his surroundings as it would have been a great start to a documentary project.

The view this is what I saw...

It was lovely standing there looking down and the view across the river was beautiful indeed.

I then moved on to catch the ferry across the Mersey as Hardman captured some school kids on the ferry I walked to Hamilton Square it was a nice day so the walk was good, upon arrival at the ferry terminal there were lots of people waiting to get the ferry also I guess a mix of holiday makers alongside families and local people quite a mix but no school kids.  I will take the ride again at some point.  I kinda got a bit lost in the ferry ride as I just snapped away at everything really but I feel maybe the 50 minute tour would be ideal for the next time.  The ride was a lovely adventure although short.

Below is the photo Hardman took on the ferry with the school can clearly see the ferry has changed so much since then...but the ride was lovely.... You can also see how much the city has changed too by comparing the photos.

As we got closer I had to move quickly but had no time to compare with Hardman's photos as the ferry seemed well seemed to move faster than I anticipated... 

My next place was to find what was called The Museum of Liverpool for some of you will know they have this fabulous new building which is the museum today not in Hardmans time.  So after some thought and research I began the walk towards the World Museum in Liverpool.  With a map in my hand and carrying all my camera gear it was heavy thankfully it wasn't too hot weather wise...the walk was interesting as it was a part of the city I'd never been too.  But it was nice as I walked along quite happily wondering what the next view would be like compared to when Hardman photographed from the museum steps.  As he captured this on a rainy day in the evening as the city lights were on and the paths reflected the lights due to the rain.  Whereas for myself it was a sunny day and dry as well and mid afternoon too.  

The World Museum is very grand and such a beautiful building indeed.  

The above is one of the photos that I took with my Nikon but at the same time I was trying to get it accurate as to when Hardman shot it, but I realised afterwards later when I got home it wasn't spot on.  But as I looked closely at the photo Hardman took and mine their was no way I could get to the same spot because it was chained up the gate leading to where he stood.  One feels the need to contact the World Museum to see if they would allow me to have access to the same spot on another visit.
Below is the photo Hardman took looking from the museum.

After taking those photos I then went on to explore and find a statue that he also photographed nearby the museum... Below is my shot beside his it's not spot on again.  I guess a learning curve.

Mine below 

I now await the photos from the Brownie camera.....

Major Project

Having received the grades for my recent exams it’s time to focus on the MP. Just last week I began to think about the next step on my pro...