super-sized seaweed cyanotype

super-sized seaweed cyanotype

I have been experimenting with how large I can go with my cyanotype prints in preparation for an exhibit in September. I am limited by my set-up, which includes four uv lights, two heavy pieces of toughened glass in which to sandwich the paper and negative during exposure, and a modestly sized bath tub that I wash the prints in. The largest single print I can make is approximately 60cm (24″).

This photograph of bladderwrack seaweed, taken on the west coast of Wales last summer, has so much detail and texture in it that I knew it could work at a large scale. I hit upon the idea of printing 24 separate squares that fit together to create a larger whole. The complete print is 115 x 75cm/ 45 x 30″ (see my toes for scale!).

Because this is a hand-printing process, the colour and exposure of each square varies slightly and the joins between them do not align perfectly, giving a more painterly effect. I am enjoying taking yet another step away from the perfection of digital printing.

I will be hard at work on more large and small prints for my Artwave show in September, more details to follow soon. I am also pushing on with the design of my hand-bound book of cyanotype landscapes of the sea and shoreline.

If you would like information about pre-ordering my book please get in touch. All my hand-printed cyanotypes are available to buy. Information about purchasing my prints and books can be found here.

Stormy cyanotype seas

Stormy cyanotype seas

As the days brighten and lengthen, I have had renewed energy to focus on new projects, so I am pushing ahead with my book of sea and shore cyanotypes. My ideas are finally crystallising around how the book will work. I will keep you posted on how it goes and when it will become available.

Making cyanotypes is a rather lengthy process. Printing out my negatives onto acetate film takes about half an hour each. I make a contact print by placing the acetate over paper that I have coated with cyanotype solution which is then exposed to ultraviolet light for around 40 minutes. After the print has been washed in water, I leave it to dry in sunlight, which helps to deepen and enrich the tones.

This print is one of my favourites. It feels to me like it comes from another era, although it was taken 18 months ago just down the road in the industrial setting of Newhaven harbour. The ominous force of that wave against the pier brings to my mind seafaring exploits of past centuries, and the terrible storms and deadly shipwrecks associated with them.

All my hand-printed cyanotypes are available to buy. Get in touch for more information. You can find more of my cyanotypes here, and my book of Lewes Bonfire cyanotypes 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.

Seashore life in minute detail

Seashore life in minute detail

My cyanotype journey continues with what became a surprisingly beloved subject matter over the past months. While I was photographing the wide expanse of the Seven Sisters white cliffs, I ended up turning my lens down to the tiny world of the seaweed that covers the rocks at Hope Gap.

I became interested in the minute detail of shore life – glossy, rubbery, bumpy seaweed, shiny wet rocks and the hard circular forms of snails. There is something about the cyanotype process that sharpens and enhances details in a photograph, making the seaweed even glossier and bumpier, the rocks shinier. It was exciting to take this tiny spot on the beach and enlarge it so that all of that life was visible.

In my Artwave show, I am exhibiting a Hope Gap seaweed print that is over 750mm (30″) wide, making this little corner of the seashore much much larger than life. Of all the varied subjects that I have hand-printed as cyanotypes over the past months, it is my seaweed ones that I love the most, that I feel a visceral, almost physical connection with. You can find a selection of my cyanotypes here and learn how I create them here.

I am self-publishing a book of my cyanotype Bonfire portraits. It will be available for sale during my Artwave exhibit and also by mail order. You can find more information here. A large selection of this new work is being shown as part of the Lewes District Artwave Festival in a joint exhibit with artist Kelly Hall. You can find us at St Anne’s House, 111 High St, Lewes, BN7 1XY, opposite Shelley’s Hotel. We will be open the 12/13 and 19/20 September, 11am-5pm. Please do come by and say hello!

Newhaven Harbour in the storm

Newhaven Harbour in the storm

I went out on Sunday morning to attempt to photograph the storm waves battering the shoreline. Although it wasn’t raining, the sea spray was so strong that my camera lens was immediately too wet to take photographs. It was worth the trip anyway. The shore was crowded with people wanting to witness the power or the sea.

I tried again the next morning, with the sky clear and bright. I was rewarded with one of the most beautiful views of the sea that I have ever seen. The sun had just risen and was casting a low light across the water. The glow of it sparkled across the surface while throwing deep shadows behind the waves.

On one side of the breakwater, three surfers were catching the big rollers coming smoothly into shore. On the other side, the water was a turmoil of huge waves, bright white foam and spray blown by the blasting wind into delicate feathers. I sat on the beach for a long time, feeling elated. When I got home, I realised that my face was covered in salt from the sea spray.

I struggled to decide which photo of the storm to use today, so do take a look at the others here and let me know if you think I chose the right one. All my landscape photos can be found here as well.

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.

Is it a train? Is it a boat? Is it a London Underground carriage?

Is it a train? Is it a boat? Is it a London Underground carriage?

Actually it is two out of the three. This is the Island Line train that serves the west side of the Isle of Wight, from Ryde to Shanklin. The c1938 carriages were originally used on the London Underground Northern Line. This photo was not taken out at sea, however. The train runs to the end of Ryde Pier (to link up with the ferry to Portsmouth – a great bit of joined-up public transport) so you are surrounded by water when riding on it.

It is a joyous and surreal experience to have sun flooding in on an old familiar Underground ride while looking out at blue water instead of dark tunnels. More photos of towns and such are here.

In another bit of news, in case you were wondering how I got on with my photo that was shortlisted in the Event Photography Awards, I am very pleased to say that I came in second out of a shortlist of 12 in my category.

A rainy Southend Pier, Essex

A rainy Southend Pier, Essex

I give you a moody shot for this week’s photo. It was taken while travelling the length of the longest pleasure pier in the world, which happens to be in Southend, Essex. This elevated platform extends 1.34 miles out into the middle of the Thames River Estuary. It is so long that, as an alternative to walking to the end of the pier,

you can also take a dedicated railway line, where this photo was taken. In fact, we were forced to take the train because the walkway was closed due to the adverse weather conditions that you can see outside the window. Unfortunately, we missed the train back and had to (illegally) run the length of the pier in the rain. You can find more townscape photos here, and more of my travel photographs here.

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