Here’s a (very) wee review I’ve done of one of my latest book acquisitions – “The Pool” by Iain Sargeant
I’ve always admired Iain Sargeant’s work from afar – particularly his “Out of the Ordinary” series of personal work that explores everyday scenes of the urban landscape in Scotland, almost reveling (I feel) in the banal, with a recurring theme of loneliness despite the presence of urban life being everywhere. Iain Sargeant’s latest book is called “The Pool” and is quite far removed from “Out of the Ordinary”, as it focuses solely on a pool no bigger than 2m in width not far from his home – as opposed to the wide ranging travels throughout Scotland that are documented in “Out of the Ordinary”.
The Pool – Front Cover
Iain has chosen in “The Pool” to use black and white (slightly sepia?) and a very shallow depth of field when photographing the environs of the pool. This adds a very abstract element to the images. Its a very mellow book, the sort that I could imagine gazing through on a rainy afternoon with a malt in my hand sat in a bay window, slowly absorbing the nuance that each photograph contains.
The photos, for me, are very meditative in the understated and thoughtful way of Takeshi Shikama’s “Silent Respiration of Forests” and Bae, Bien-U’s “Sacred Wood”, but on a much smaller and more intimate scale. I can’t describe it any better than this – its the sort of photography that makes my chest tighten and pulse go that little bit quicker as I marvel at the thoughtful approach that Iain has adopted when engaging with what is after all, just a pool.
The book is produced by Triplekite Publishing, a double team in the form of photographers Dav Thomas and David Breen and is available from their site. Dav and David have produced a number of niche photography books in the past year, focusing mainly on landscapes. Their book publishing efforts have been complimented recently with their new “bookzine” “Land | Sea”, which show cases some of the talent that the landscape photography community has to offer.
My Ties to the Land Pinhole Photography Project has a new home – http://tiestotheland.co.uk. I’ll be updating that site more often with progress on the project and new images for it too.
I’ve recently bought a RealitySoSubtle 4×5″ large format pinhole camera – I’ve yet to get my hands on it but it looks like a thing of beauty – have a look for yourself – https://aupremierplan.fr/custom-cameras/realitysosubtle-4×5/. To compliment this, I’ve bought some Efke Aura infra red film – having bemoaned its demise, I have found that 4 x 5 Efke Aura film is “relatively” cheap, so would like to give it one last try before all stocks evaporate. The new camera and the chance to have one last huzzah with Efke Aura will be a fine addition to the project.
Here is one of my latest photographic additions to the project, the impact crater from a World War 2 mortar round on Big Moor in the Derbyshire Peak District.
On Saturday I went to Connected 2014, which is the Nottingham Flickr group’s annual exhibition – but everyone is welcome to join in! It is organised by Rob Knight and Karen Leach (http://www.rkphotographic.com/) and held at Patchings Art Centre near Southwell (and Nottingham).
Above is the photograph I had on display. I was a bit nervous about seeing it, as its the first photograph of mine to be exhibited and I hadn’t printed it – instead it was printed by someone else and I just had to send a soft proofed image across. Having never used soft proofing I was worried that I had created a garish monster of an image, as every time I turned soft proofing off the photograph just looked worse and worse. So it was a small leap of faith when I pressed “Send”. I am glad that I did though, as it does look rather fine up on the wall at Patchings. To see this photograph and others like it in my “Texture and Form” portfolio have a look at my other site.
It was great to catch up with people in real life that I’d only previously “met” on Twitter – for that alone it was worth attending.
There were two talks at Connected, one by Dav Thomas (http://peaklandscapes.com/) and David Baker. Dav’s talk was particularly good, as it covered his approach to becoming unpopular (photographically!). Which perversely led to Dav creating a book with the help of David Breen – http://withtrees.co.uk/. David and Dav are now the duo driving Triple Kite Publishing (http://www.triplekite.co.uk/). The second book that Dav and David produced was David Baker’s “Sea Fever” – http://seafeverbook.co.uk/.
I had the chance to visit the Dinorwic Quarries in North Wales on Good Friday. I wanted to go back there having been in the lower levels of the quarries whilst on a work shop with Richard Childs. Unfortunately due to the weather, we didn’t get a chance to explore the higher reaches of the dinorwic quarries, and with my general lack of fitness it would have taken us sometime as a party to get up there! However on Friday I did (it did take a while).
It should be noted that save for a rather boring path through the quarry the rest of the area is fenced off to varying degrees of rigor and even those areas with razor wire topped fence can be circumvented with a little imagination. So if you do choose to go there having read this, you do so at your on risk etc….
I came across this Google Map of the Dinowric Quarries area that is marked up with what is what – https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msa=0&msid=109915291015428156362.000454917b26c70160baa&dg=feature . It is a really handy guide as to what is what in the area. My goal was the Australia level, where I was told there was a slate cutting workshop with the machinery still largely in place. The lower level workshops have been either knocked down completely or left standing with the machinery removed. As a general principle, the higher up you go in the Dinorwic Quarries, the more there is to find that is intact(ish). There is even a mess room (not on the Australia level) that has coats hanging up on the wall – albeit they have been nibbled as far as a goat can reach. Incidentally, this mess room is “looked after”, in so much as people seem to camp out in it, so the goat/sheep poo that you find many inches deep in other buildings (as I found in this lower level compressor room) is not to be found here.
I’ve included below some processed “sketches” and below that some happy snaps of the place. I also took some pinhole shots of the slate cutting workshop for my project and a “number” of rolls on Velvia, but those will have to go to Peak Imaging for processing – no doubt I will grace these pages with the results of that. As it was really sunny (i.e. shockingly bad for photography) I tended to go in really close for what may be described as more intimate landscapes. On Dinorwic 6 of 7 I was playing with scale and hoping to produce something that didn’t belie its scale – it was only having finished processing it that I realised that there is something in the shot that completely gives it away – can you see it?
Dinorwic Quarries Happy Snaps
If you’re a regular reader of this blog you might know that I have a couple of pinhole photography projects going on. My main focus these past couple months has been my “Ties to the Land” pinhole photography project. There has been a subtle change in approach, instead of coming across scenes that I think will fit the intent of the project, I ‘m now (on the whole) actively seeking out locations that fit the project. The list is growing all the time, but quite how I’m going to get close enough to RAF Menwith Hill with a pinhole camera to do the “golf balls” any justice I’m not quite sure! (If you see me in the news you’ll know why. )
I have had a bit of surge in momentum these past couple of months, but for some reason I’ve been holding back on sharing them like I usually do, not sure why that is the case.
The above photograph is currently the last photo in my planned mini ebook – a sort of “Story so far…”. Its of Formby Beach near Liverpool where a layer of mud has been revealed that contains footprints of all sorts of animals (including humans) dating back to the Neolithic area – some 4,000 years old. Its quite humbling to know that you’re nothing special and that humans have walked this very land long before us and our technology came along. In its own way, that’s why I feel pinhole photography in all its basic-ness lends itself quite well to this project.
I’ve added a good number of new photographs to the project, some using infra red film (as it was sunny last weekend!), please have a visit over at – http://www.alastairrossphotography.co.uk/ties-to-the-land-stonework-pinhole-photography-project/
Some quick sketches from my recent trip in Malham and Ribblesdale in the Yorkshire Dales – unfortunately I never got the opportunity to get the big camera out to take some “proper” shots, so these will have to suffice.
Gordale Beck Barn Door
Two from my recent bimble along Gordale Beck near Malham in the Yorkshire Dales National Park whilst on a workshop with David Ward. Both taken on Velvia using a smart phone to do the metering as I’d forgotten my spot meter (I’m still cross at myself for that!).
You can find more from that day and some other photographs that concentrate on texture and form in my gallery - http://www.alastairrossphotography.co.uk/texture-form/
Dinorwic Quarry, North Wales
Here’s one I’m not quite sure about. It was taken in a sheep poo filled plant room in the Dinorwic Quarry above Llanberis in North Wales. I do love the colours but I’m still not sure. I’ve been struggling a bit with my colour film photography having switched from the ever versatile Kodak Portra 400, which I’m told on good authority is the “honey badger” of film to Kodak Portra 160, I just don’t seem to be getting it right.
The reason for the switch from Portra 400 to Portra 160 was purely financial, there is about a £0.50 per roll difference in cost. And whilst not a lot, it does add up, especially when I had the opportunity to buy a lot of film up last September. That said now I’m beginning to doubt myself, is 50p a roll worth it when (I feel) I’m wasting so much film “getting my eye” in with Portra 160?
Going through some old films and getting them processed and came across this “keeper”. Taken on my Hasselblad Xpan using Ilford Pan F.
Loch Buie Stone Circle and Outlier
Click on the image to see it “slightly” bigger.
For more information about the Loch Buie Stone Circle – have a look here.
….or does it?
I posted on Twitter the question of “Is the bit on the right distracting?”
Llanberis Coloured Rock and Slate I
I was half expecting the responses to be a bit like those if you ask “Does my bum look big in this?” (NB: Men, the correct answer is “No”), but actually on this occasion I got a differing response – “Yes” – it was distracting. So I cropped the image down. That said I did lose the interesting vein of bluey greeness.
Llanberis Coloured Rock and Slate II
Then the following day I got different responses from friends in the Twittersphere that made me challenge my original thinking about the necessity for a crop – there was more to explore in the original image (and I would agree). So I’m left with two equally compelling images, that said I feel I am now coming full circle and if I had to choose I would probably choose #1
What do you think and why?