On the last day of summer

On the last day of summer

On the last day of summer, I swam in a sea with no horizon. It was boundless and made of liquid silver. The morning sun was hidden by a bank of mist and there was a stillness in the air and across the water. As I swam, I savoured the feeling, hoping that I would be able to retrieve it during the months of winter ahead. More of my landscape photographs are here.

I am self-publishing a book of my cyanotype Bonfire portraits. It is available by mail order. You can find more information here.

Please get in touch if you have a workplace, an event, a celebration, a portrait or a building project you would like to have photographed.

Next step: cyanotype portraiture

Next step: cyanotype portraiture

Over my past couple of blog posts I have been telling you about my cyanotype journey during lockdown. After experimenting with photographs of storms, wild seas and dramatic landscapes, I wanted to see how this technique would work for portraiture.

I began hunting through the largest collection of portraits in my archive – my Lewes Bonfire photos. I was interested to see what this process could add to the atmosphere of the photos. Again, it took a lot of trial and error. In order for the technique to work, I discovered the photos needed certain qualities. If the light falling on a face was too flat, the photo would not translate well into cyanotype. The same was the case if there was not enough detail – or there was too much, or if the photo was not sharp enough, or if it was too dark. But for the successful ones, the process added a drama and a mystery that would not have been possible by digital means alone.

I have been so excited by the results of my bonfire cyanotypes that I am self-publishing a book of them. It will be available for sale during my Artwave exhibit and also by mail order. More information is available here.

A large selection of this new work will be shown as part of the Lewes District Artwave Festival in a joint exhibit with artist Kelly Hall. You can find us at 111 High St, Lewes, BN7 1XY, opposite Shelley’s Hotel. We will be open the first three weekends in September, 11am-5pm. Please do come by and say hello!

You can find a selection of my cyanotypes here and learn how I create them here.

Please get in touch if you have a workplace, an event, a celebration, a portrait or a building project you would like to have photographed.

Dazzled at Hope Gap

Dazzled by Hope Gap

So, let us continue together on our cyanotype journey. After weeks and weeks stuck at home during lockdown, my family’s first joyous outing to a beach was to the aptly named Hope Gap near Seaford. It is along this Sussex coastline that the chalk hills of the South Downs hit the sea in steep dramatic cliffs.

The day was bright and still. An hour’s walk brought us to a gap in the rolling green scrubland. Opened out before us was a vista of sparkling sea, with the undulating Seven Sisters to the left and a headland rising straight out of the water to the right.

Down on the beach the tide was out and the cliffs loomed sharp and jagged, their white edges standing out against sky. I felt moved nearly to tears at the startling beauty of it all.

I had been working doggedly on my storm cyanotypes over many lockdown hours when I began to think about using the technique for other types of landscape photographs. The process is tricky and it is difficult to predict how a photograph will translate from computer screen to hand-made print.

For many photos, it doesn’t really work, but for some, the tonal qualities of cyanotype heighten the feelings I want to convey in a photograph. This mightiest of the Sisters is called Haven Brow and towers 77 meters (253 ft) above Cuckmere Haven. The cyanotype process helps to convey what I wanted here – a sense of the majesty of this cliff face.

You can find a selection of my cyanotypes here and learn how I create them here.This new work will be exhibited in September in a joint exhibit with artist Kelly Hall as part of the Lewes District Artwave Festival.

It’s a whole new ballgame

It’s a whole new ballgame

Lockdown has been many things for many people. Although obviously a very upsetting time, for me it also proved to be productive and I am excited to share with you what I have been working on. Back in January, my daughter came home from college with some cyanotypes she had made and I was immediately taken with the potential of the technique. Thus began months of experimentation.

Cyanotype is a traditional darkroom method dating back to the 1840s. I use acetate to create a negative from a digital file and use this to make a contact print onto paper that I have painted with cyanotype solution.

It is a deceptively simple process. It is fickle and inconsistent and can drive me crazy, but when it works, it is joyous. There is variation in each print so, unlike a digital photograph, every image is unique. 

Because I was unable to leave the house I had many hours to play with the process, seeing what types of images worked best and how far I could push the technique. I began with photos I took during the winter storms that pounded our coastline, perhaps because I was missing the sea so much during lockdown. 

You can find a selection of my cyanotypes here. This new work will be exhibited in September as part of the Lewes District Artwave Festival. A book of my Bonfire cyanotypes is available as well, more information on that here.

Was it a pea souper or the Devil’s soup?

Was it a pea souper or the Devil’s soup?

From blazing sun to rain and wind – we have had it all here in Sussex lately. On a walk to investigate a prehistoric hill fort above Steyning, West Sussex, we were blasted by a ferocious wind, while at the same time, blinded by thick fog – which seemed a strange weather combination to me. Out of the mist a line of trees suddenly rose above the open fields of the Downs, although it was hard to make out exactly what we were looking at because of the thick fog. Beneath the trees there were strange undulating mounds covered in soft grass that formed a huge circular shape, with younger trees filling the centre. As we stepped into this circle, the wind suddenly dropped, and the space felt eery and, if I had let my imagination run wild, maybe a bit haunted.

Chanctonbury Ring has been a sacred place for over 2000 years. Neolithic flint work, Bronze Age pottery and the remains of a Roman temple have been uncovered here and some believe it is a place of mystic druid power. A local myth claims that the Devil built the Ring and if you run around it anti-clockwise seven times, he will appear and give you a bowl of soup in exchange for your soul. It must be a hell of a bowl of soup, but I think I will forgo running around the Ring seven times just in case.

You can see more of my landscape photography here.

Please get in touch if you have a workplace, an event, a celebration, a portrait or a building project you would like to have photographed.

With photography, it’s always about the light

With photography, it’s always about the light

I have been feeling very lucky to live near a beach during our current heatwave. Not surprisingly, the hotter the weather gets, the busier the seaside gets.

A few days ago I set out very early with my camera to both beat the crowds and catch the early morning light. The sunrise is currently just before 5am here, so by the time I got to the beach at 6.15, it had already been daylight for a couple of hours. That was ok, though, because the sun was still low enough in the sky for my needs.

Photography is always, always about light: the quality, amount and size of the light source, the direction of it and its colour. This would have been a completely different sort photograph if I had shot it in bright, harsh midday light. Instead, the soft early morning sun raked across the beach, throwing every stone and water rivulet into relief. It was well worth getting up for. You can see more of my landscape photography here

Please get in touch if you have a workplace, an event, a celebration, a portrait or a building project you would like to have photographed.

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