Early Summer at John Muir Country Park, Scotland
I began with this picture because it representated a departure for me, and a point when I began a long journey of investigation, which is ongoing. I had become fascinated by the effects of sunlight passing through foliage, and it gave me a completely new direction in terms of landscape photography. Instead of the broad, I began to focus on the intimate, and instead of the general, the particular.
I had walked past this scene many times and was waiting for the foliage to really wake up as it does in early summer, and before it becomes tired-looking. One day I realised that the moment had come and I went back to the car to get my gear. I used an MPP MkVIII folding 5×4 technical camera, which is a very similar beast to the German Linhof Teknica, but made by a company in London. These are really nice machines, and usually pretty cheap to acquire, much less than a Tek, anyway.
Picture: Rod Fleming
I grew up in a world where photography, especially monochrome photography, was synonymous with ‘truth’. That was never strictly accurate, of course, and as a photographer I knew the extent to which the truth can be manipulated. Nevertheless, as evidenced by the incredible work we saw every day in the newspapers of the 60s, which I consumed with passion while still at school, a photograph was regarded as an equivalent to reality; it was not just a representation of truth, but an affirmation of it.
“Look,’ it said, ‘This is a true thing; I stand witness to that.’ Even today, when PhotoShop has put tricks of the trade that I spent years learning at the click of an amateur’s mouse, photographs brook no argument. The leaves really were that green, the sunset that orange, the woman so perfect. Yet perfect beauty was never in the sorcery of the darkroom or the airbrush artist’s hand, nor is it in the magic of digital manipulation; real beauty is actually real. It needs no PhotoShopping or dastardly manipulation, only to be seen and known, and recorded.
The other part of my life, however, is very different from the ascetic artist whose delight is in the expression of pure form or idea. As a musician, I am by definition an entertainer. And my professional photographic career has been mainly in Photojournalism. Indeed, long before I immersed myself in Weston and Brandt I was mainlining Cartier-Bresson and Don McCullin. Continue reading
Crissy in Bangkok–so cute it hurts
I visited the Philippines to see my then girlfriend Crissy José in March 2013, and we went to Thailand for my birthday. This is a small selection of pictures from the trip. Most of the pictures were taken either with a Nikon D90 or a Canon Powershot G12.
We met at the airport, as before, but this time it was close to midnight. At least that meant it was cool. In late February the Phils has not really warmed up, though their idea of ‘winter’ is ‘tops off and down the beach’ for a Scot like me.
I had booked a few nights at the Oasis Paco Park Hotel, which I can highly recommend. It is reasonably priced, very clean, nice staff and very central. It’s under ten minutes’ tricycle ride to Luneta (Rizal) Park, for example, Manila bay is about 15 minutes in a taxi and Mall of Asia only a little further. Although Malate has lost the colourful gay night-life that gained it a reputation, it is still lively and nearby.
Gallery Philippines and Thailand 2013
Low-Key photograph of Exeter Cathedral, Rod Fleming 1980
Tones, Highlight and Shadows
Key is an essential consideration in all photographs. It helps to influence the mood of your picture and to define its message.
Key is just as important in colour as in monochrome work, but to simplify matters we’ll look at these separately.
Grip the fiddle and bow so that the bow crosses the strings at a right angle
Once you have the grip of the instrument under the chin sorted out, the next thing to address is the right hand’s grip on the bow. This can cause a great deal of trouble though in my opinion is not as tricky as the left hand. Again, the secret is to avoid tension; the hand must be relaxed. To do this, all four fingers and the thumb must be in contact with the stick, and all must be curved. This is hugely important. The most common grip errors are for the little or pinkie finger to lock and become straight and rigid. Do not allow this to happen. Another is for the pinkie to lift off the stick, which is also wrong. More subtle and harder to see but just as damaging is for the thumb to become stiff.