On HCB 2

Senate House Hill, Cambridge, April 2019

‘A few years after the first edition of Magnum Contact Sheets was released (5 June 2014 to be precise) journalist and literary critic Gaby Wood wrote an interesting article about the Cartier-Bresson exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris for the London Review of Books.  “The reason his photographs often feel so numbly impersonal now is not just that they are familiar,” she proposed.  “It’s that they’re so coolly composed, so infernally correct that there’s nothing raw about them, and you find yourself thinking: would it not be more interesting if his moments were a little less decisive?”  Wood’s words might seem harsh, but I’m inclined to agree – while I love a flawlessly framed shot, life can be messy, and overwhelming, and sometimes it doesn’t lend itself to being perfectly arranged and contained.’ Tracy Calder, Black+White Photography, Number 247

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On HCB 1

St Andrew’s Street, Cambridge, June 2020

‘Tell us your favourite photographic quote. “We must think before and after, never while taking a picture.  Our success depends on sharpness, clarity, knowledge, but each time a photograph is planned, elaborate, it becomes stuck in clichés.”  Henri Cartier Bresson.  I love this quote – photography is more about being hyper aware and responding to what’s around you, than constructing images.’ Jim Marsden interviewed in Black+White Photography, Number 247

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U3A Cambridge 2020-21 Photography: The Telling Image 3

This gallery contains 5 photos.

Following on from my post on 15th November, here are some edited highlights and my responses on issues raised by Module 3, which looked at image and identity in photography KB: The Arnold Newman photo of Stravinsky (below) really struck … Continue reading

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Shingle Street 26 – Shell Line

Shell Line, Shingle Street

Sculptors have drawn the shell line with the chalky remains of the common whelk, or buckie, Buccinum undatum.  Shellcraft artists have punctuated the line with a crown of bleached common starfish, Asterias rubens, and a necklace of purply ridged common cockles, Cardium edule.  The common whelk is found on muddy gravel or sand, on the lower shore and below; the common starfish inhabits the lower shore; the common cockle is found in the sand or sandy mud of the middle and lower shore.  They all arrive here with the shingle, riding the currents and longshore drift.

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Classical Contrasts 11 – Augustus

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Augustus was a Roman statesman and military leader who became the first emperor of the Roman Empire, reigning from 27 BC until his death in AD 14. He was the first ruler of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Figure: Augustus, one of … Continue reading

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Cottenham at Random

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Gog Magog Hills

Gog Magog Hills, Cambridge, November 2020

Walking up the Roman Road to Wandlebury in lovely late autumn sun yesterday. A view of the Gog Magog Hills, what J calls ‘a waterfall of winter wheat’. (Excuse mobile phone quality.)

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Fen Landscape, Rampton

North Fen, Rampton,1, November 2020

After a wet October and some miserable days in early November, Friday 13th shed its triskaidekaphobia image – bright and clear it was late autumn at its best. We walked Cow Lane from Rampton towards Willingham. I photographed again the two surreal stark and lonely trees I posted a picture of on the 21st September.

North Fen, Rampton, 2, November 2020
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U3AC 2020-21 Photography: The Telling Image 2

This gallery contains 8 photos.

Following on from my post on 9th November, here are some edited highlights and my responses on issues raised by Module 2, which looked at photography a means of engagement with society GM: I was glad to see that some … Continue reading

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Classical Contrasts 10 – Ariadne

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Ariadne: daughter on Minos, King of Crete, she helped Theseus overcome the Minotaur.  Abandoned by Theseus on Naxos, Dionysus found her and married her. Figure Italian (possibly Neapolitan) School, c. 1895-1925, marble; Park Close, Englefield Green, Surrey.

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Classical Contrasts 9: Askelepus

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Askelepus God of medicine, the patron god the ancient guild of doctors. Attribute a snake.  Son of Apollo and Coronis. Figure: Askelepus, Bromsgrove Guild of Applied Arts, c. 1901-17, lead; origin unknown.

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U3AC 2020-21 Photography: The Telling Image 1

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In autumn 2019 Jane Lynas and I ran a course, Photography: The Telling Image, for the Cambridge U3A, see post 13th December 2019.  We are repeating it this year, though as a series of five on-line modules. The course looks … Continue reading

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Photography in three words

St Mary’s Passage, June 2020

One of the people on my U3AC course ‘Photography: The Telling Image’ has been struggling to know what to photograph during these constrained times – his main interest is around live music events.  I can understand how he feels, though it’s a very long time since I went to a live music event to simply enjoy the music much less to take photographs.  It’s a common enough frustration though, pandemic or not, and sheds a light on why photography is important to us.  If it were about simply taking photographs there is a myriad of subjects out there that would make more or less interesting and aesthetically pleasing photographs.  The itch is not scratched by merely pressing the shutter, unfortunately.

St David’s Head, July 2020

Eddie Ephrams, writing in Black+White Photography magazine recently, responded to a challenge to think of three words that described his approach to photography.  I tried this and came up with: ‘seeing’, ‘revealing’ and ‘understanding’.  Seeing is about noticing what’s there in the world around me, the everyday as well as the extraordinary.  Revealing means I try to take the time see beyond the obvious, the surface appearances and effects.  Understanding, asks me to bring seeing and revealing together to achieve a greater knowledge of the subject, not just in itself, but also in relationship to its surroundings and the bigger interconnected system of which it is a part.  For me, the tree words are as applicable to landscape as they are to street photography.

Nine magpies, Cambridge, November 2020

These three dimensions go beyond taking the photograph.  At the personal level they relate to how the photograph might be used and how it connects to other existing or anticipated work on projects that might lead to a photo book.  These may cover a specific subject, as in Ruckebfigur Revisited (2013), or something more conceptual, like Undertow (2019).  Beyond the personal, I hope anyone viewing my pictures will experience something of the seeing, revealing and understanding that have informed them.

Lime Kiln Chalk Pits, Cambridge, May 2020

This does not provide an instant answer to the initial problem of what to photograph.  The music photographer may not be interested in landscape nor formal portraiture: the best, enduring, photography comes from a true engagement with the subject not just the technical capacity to make a well-exposed and well composed picture.  What another person’s three words might do is to encourage them to look at other subjects in new ways, and in turn provide a new direction for their photography.

Underlying this is the fundamental question of why we take photographs and the three words provide me with an answer: to see, to reveal and to understand.  They also help me to distinguish between what the photograph is of and what it’s about.

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Shingle Street Tank Trap

Tank Trap, Shingle Street

A row of 22 anti-tank blocks stride across the marsh at the south end of Shingle Street where it joins Bawdsey Beach.  Today it seems a strange spot for such defences, but once it blocked an exit off the beach and was part of a bigger set of obstacles and a battery that have long since gone.  Between Felixstowe and The Wash around 28,000 such redoubts were constructed in 1940 in the face of the expected invasion by Nazi Germany (Operation Sealion). Around 6,000 survive – many are hidden, others have now become part of the landscape.

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Classical Comparisons 8: Apollino

Figure: Apollino, Italian or British School, c. 1755-1850, marble; origin unknown. The Apollino or Medici Apollo is a Roman copy of a Hellenistic sculpture of the adolescent god Apollo of the Apollo Lykeios type. Its left arm may have held a bow.

Apollino, Anglesey Abbey
Apollino, Anglesey Abbey
Apollino, Anglesey Abbey
Apollino, Anglesey Abbey
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