Spring has finally started to show signs of life here in the North Wessex Downs and it seems to have been a slow start for many of the garden plants. Last year, by now, I would have been busy capturing those early spring shows for a number of my clients who are garden designers and creators. Yet, this year we’ve had to wait a little longer for the snowdrops and quince to really start doing their thing!
However, that’s not to say there aren’t dramatic statements of spring to be found and photographed – a couple of weekends ago whilst out cycling with a mate of mine we happened across a wood with a bed of snowdrops so large and dense, it literally looked like it had snowed beneath the trees and covered the ground in a blanket of white. Excited by our ‘discovery’, I took the first opportunity I could to return with my camera, a bag of lenses and a few visualised photographs in my head.
The discovery, however, is clearly no secret to those who live locally – as it turned out. Welford Park happens to be a large manor house gardens which once a year are opened to the public in order to allow access to the stunning snowdrop display and raise funds for a selection of local charities. This of course created a few challenges when coming to make photographs that look natural and absent from crowds of tourists like me!
Apart from the delicious tea and cakes, it was a truly rewarding trip… two new photographs worthy of my landscape photography portfolio which will also be added to a growing collection of woodland photographs I have been creating. These will eventually make up a follow up to last years ‘The Downs’ landscape exhibition.
As I sit here writing this, my printer is sat behind me working overtime to get the final 3 prints completed in time for hanging my latest exhibition and third, of a very busy 2014.
I say, ‘working overtime’ as if my printer has got a mind of its own and needs the extra cash or is simply dedicated and passionate about its job – the truth is, it’s an inanimate object with no true feelings or capacity to think and therefore it’s really all zeros and ones being forced down the line in the form of commands. When thought of like that, today’s digital darkroom is no where near as romantic as the days of wet processing prints. The days when waiting 16 minutes for a test strip to pop out – enough time for a smoke and a few more pages of a good (hopefully) book! In the days I was printing using enlargers, blacked out rooms and feeding paper blind into the rollers of a colour processor I smoked and read… a lot. I may hope to achieve a handful of satisfactory prints in a full day – if I was lucky.
The exhibition opens on Monday 11th August 2014 and runs until the 23rd August 2014 at the Vale & Downland Museum, Wantage. It’s a wonderful and intimate space with a great cafe for a welcome bite or drink. Set in Wantage town centre, it’s the perfect venue to show my latest collection of landscape photography, all of which are taken in and around the North Wessex Downs, in which Wantage nestles. The work itself took 3 years to pull together with the latest photographs from as recent as the end of July this year, and was driven by a desire to create a series of photographs that focus on this stunning, precious and mesmerising part of Britain that I feel very fortunate to live and work in.
Please do take the time to drop in and have a look at my latest exhibition – I hope you enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed and got pleasure and inspiration from creating the individual pieces.
I’m sure after the long, cold and wet winter we had, most of us were longing for a good summer, particularly after the last couple of years. Thankfully we’ve been blessed with an amazing few months of warm dry and sunny weather which has also been great for us photographers. It’s raining and a bit cool as I sit in my office and write this but I’m confident that yesterday wasn’t the last of the great weather (at least that’s what I’m telling myself), and with the autumn comes some wonderful new opportunities for photographers of all disciplines.
I can’t believe it’s a month since my last blog. I’m not sure where the time has gone but I know that I’ve done a lot of photography in August and that it’s been extremely productive. Aside from my commercial photography work, I’ve been busy putting proposals together for a couple of exciting exhibitions in 2014 – one for my Farrier project (which still requires a few more photos to bring it together and add context, but which can’t be taken until the winter to ensure I have continuity) and one of local Landscapes. I’ve spent much of the last few months adding to my collection for this project but there is still much work to be done – there’s always a different part of the downs I want to visit and take photographs of. Lately, I’ve been rising with the sun to take landscape photographs, returning to my commercial work and then heading back out at dusk to catch the evening light. In addition to all this, I’ve also been working on ideas for a longer project relating to the definition of the map.
Today for me is a little different though, as well as editing last weeks photographs I’m waiting for a load of logs to turn up, so they are reasonably seasoned in time for the cold weather ahead and will keep me warm during those chilly days when I’m in the office.
Whilst the weather over the last few days hasn’t been quite the summer we are starting to get accustomed to lately, it has been fantastic for landscape photography. I always feel blessed to live in such a beautiful and diverse part of the country. With the Downs to the South, the Thames Valley to the North, Europe’s oldest road (the Ridgeway) a regular Thursday night location for a bike ride and the most famous of all the White Horses, a stones throw away in Uffington.
The skies here in the downs are always big and when the storms roll in, as they have done over the last week or so, are incredibly dramatic and dynamic. At this time of the year, so much of our time in the evening is taken up with tending to our allotment (with which I hold a love/hate relationship!) so the opportunity to take a walk out of Wantage, along Lark Hill, doesn’t appear too often. However, last week it did. It’s a wonderful and theatrical route to get out into the countryside from Wantage. Your sight is forever drawn to the hole between the overhanging trees where the road disappears at the brow of the hill, urging you to take the stiff walk uphill of about 10 minutes or so, along an ever narrowing lane getting more encroached by trees and hedges as the houses finally give way to nature…
… and then you’re in the open, greeted by a vast expanse looking towards the Ridgeway across Wantage Down, with a chalk track straight as a dye leading your eyes and feet into and through this big open landscape.
If the way in which the landscape reveals it self isn’t theatrical enough, the skies can be bigger and even more dramatic. Last week they were nothing short of menacing – huge dark and heavy stratocumulus (is that right?) formations towering into space and threatening to drench the earth with more rain than you could possibly imagine, whilst the late evening sun turned the wheat fields a glowing golden yellow.
So, it may have not been a break from the perfect summer weather we had all started to acclimatise to (whilst reminding ourselves that we do sometimes get a good summer here in the UK), but it was perfect for the Landscape photographer looking for something with a big hit of drama. If you’re experiencing the kind of weather we are and you’ve not yet picked up your camera, I really urge you to do so, the results should be incredible.
If you do, please share them with me along with their story and I’ll put the best on this site with a blog later in the month. What fun!!!
Over the last week, I’ve been working with the Dolphin Art Gallery in Wantage to showcase a small selection of my limited edition photographs. Having spent a lovely sunny bank holiday Monday down in Sandbanks with a couple of good friends, Claire and I decided to take a walk before sunset to make the most of the extra day off. I couldn’t help but steer our route by way of the Market Place in Wantage, to go past the gallery.
It was great to see some of my photographs taking centre stage in the window – they look fantastic with their double thickness mounts and I’m now excitedly awaiting feedback as customers start to make comment on my work. I decided to show a selection of images from both the local area and abroad. There is also a new photograph which hasn’t before been displayed anywhere – Red Arrows over Uffington – which I am sure will bring back a lot of great memories of last years Uffington Country Fair to many people, as well as anyone who has seen the Red Arrows in action.
All of the photographs are heavyweight fibre based giclée prints, signed, numbered and provided in a double thickness mount with the Certificate of Authenticity on the reverse. If you’d like to know more details please either contact me or pop into the gallery, where we would be happy to answer any questions you may have.