After The Gold Rush

I had an hour spare this afternoon and so decided to spend it trying to tame the runaway garden. I unlocked the shed to get the mower out and was struck by the beautiful light hitting the decades of cobwebs and accumulated junk.

An hour later, I still hadn’t got the mower out, but I did get these photographs… Continue reading

Leicester Forest Road Race

Snaps from today’s Leicester Forest Cycling Club road race. The racing pictures are not my usual thing, and for me at least, less interesting than the shots taken before and after the race, of the riders preparing and recovering.

It was fun to use a digital camera again after mainly shooting film this year, and I got to waste frames that wouldn’t have been taken on film. That said, I wish I could see these on some lovely Neopan, shot through Summicron glass… Continue reading

Assignment 5: Narrative and Illustration – Subject Choice

At the weekend I took photographs of the Leicester Forest Cycling Club’s road race. Rather than just shoot pictures of the race itself, I asked people that were riding if they’d mind me following them for the day, the idea being that the set would have a more narrative feel and tell the story of ‘a day in the life of a bike racer’.

Fortunately, one of the riders didn’t say ‘no’ quickly enough and I arranged to go to his house on the morning of the race. Simon is diabetic and so seeing the additional preparation that he needed to do added a further dimension to the story. Si needs to keep blood sugars under control while racing at very high heart rate for almost two and a half hours. To do this he makes flapjack to his own recipe and packs it in small, bite-sized packages that will be easy to eat during the race.

Next I met with a group of clubmen who would be the race marshals later in the day. They were riding to the event and had stopped for breakfast at a café en route. At race HQ I photographed racers signing on and preparing themselves – each with their own routines and superstitions. After rider and marshal briefings, the race got underway. During the 9 laps, I moved around the circuit before positioning myself at the finish line for the last couple of circuits.

I shot the day on both digital and film (using my favourite Fujifilm Neopan, processing and scanning at home) and thought I’d decide if this material would be suitable for my final assignment in the Art of Photography module (Illustration and Narrative) once I’d seen the results. I’ve decided against it because while they do tell a story, it is simply a collection of photographs of the event. It feels like at this stage of the course we should be offering more than straight-forward documentary. This is our first real opportunity to bring some deeper conceptual ideas and personal comment on a subject.

So instead, I’m going to go with a project that I’m working on to do with the loss of sense of community in small villages. As it looks like I won’t be able to progress further on the course, I can take my time submitting this final assignment, and so can spend the winter collecting images for the set.


The versions presented below and those in the Flickr slideshow further down are heavily processed and certainly not suitable for submission in this form.

She’s Only 21

Today is new (old) camera day! Hooray! etc.

Having seen posts by a number of my friends and contacts who have recently bought old Canon film cameras to use with their more modern lenses, it seemed like a sensible idea and so I been keeping a look-out for a while. Today I took delivery of a EOS 5 with VG-10 grip (and a battery, just in case).


The camera has a very plasticy feel after using the 5D2 for so long, but with the grip fitted, it has the best fit in my hand of any camera I’ve ever used. My copy has had ‘the treatment’ that means that the famous sticky-grip issue has been fixed. So far I’ve only used it with the lightweight Canon 50mm f/1.8 (the one that fell off the shelf and damaged itself a few years ago) and had a quick wander round the block with a roll of Kentmere, but everything looks to be as it should.

I blew through the roll quickly before processing and scanning just to make sure focus and metering were ok. Next up, I’ll try it with a better lens and some decent film, maybe even that roll of Ektachrome 64 that I’ve been saving for a rainy day…





Exercise – Evidence of action

Showing a narrative through a sequence of images can tell the story that the photographer has in mind, leading the audience through the narrative from start to finish, showing plenty of detail and leaving no room for misunderstanding.

However, a sequence is not always possible or desirable. We may want the viewer to do some of the work.

Fig.01 - Evidence of action.  Canon 5d2. ISO125, 50mm, -2/3ev, f/2.5, 1/50

Fig.01 – Evidence of action.
Canon 5d2. ISO125, 50mm, -2/3ev, f/2.5, 1/50

As an example, fig.01 shows evidence of action and that something has happened. The deer is dead and we assume from the information provided that it has been hit by a vehicle (as it’s on the road) and probably the red van in the picture. Some of this information is true and we can see evidence of it (the deer is definitely dead). But other information has been assumed because of the visual clues we are presented with (it wasn’t hit by my red van). We need to be aware of this difference and concious of what we read into an image.

However, as photographers, we can use this effect in our favour. Photographic art often asks the viewer to create their own narrative in an image and this can range from the obvious to the bafflingly conceptual. Occasionally, a photograph can do both at the same time and appeal to different viewers who read entirely different stories into the same image.

In advertising, photography is rarely used simply to show only a pleasing view of the product. Often, a story needs to be told in one image and the reasons why the consumer would want to buy the product need to be communicated. Symbolism will be used as a visual short-hand and in this exercise we are asked to think of some examples.

We are offered the symbolism used by insurance companies. Their product cannot be photographed literally and so instead we see shields, umbrellas, fortifications and cupped hands, all implying protection and security.

There is often a lack of subtlety in such symbolism with growth shown by acorns and oak trees for example; powerful people who we are encouraged to aspire to be being are photographed from below, with warm lighting; people who don’t use ‘the product’ are usually overweight, might have bad skin and generally dress in grey/brown and the sun shines on those that do; and freshness is implied by bright white and billowing net curtains, even if there is a pig farm just out of shot.