My first photograph of 2013 was at 8am on New Years Day. These were taken at about 4.30pm today, New Years’ Eve. I tried to capture the last light of 2013, the day has been rainy and mild but in the last few hours has gone clear and chilly, with a wind getting up. They are as shot whilst taking Oskar for a walk the small park nearby, I’m not sure if my last shot was him pulling at me or the wind blowing the trees as it was quite a long exposure!
Late last December I gave myself the task of writing a blog every day with a photograph. I was extremely pleased with myself when I had reached the 3rd January and was still doing it! I haven’t been able to take a new photograph every day through 2013, however most days I do and write something, even if it is just some ‘blurb’ to go with the image.
The process has broadened for me. I have begun to be quite serious about what I am taking. It has made me think even more as an artist again. I am limited in geographic range due to ‘poverty’ but I feel this actually helps, it makes me look at the minutiae of the surrounding streets and area, and most of the images have been within a mile radius of where I live. I had a few visits to old friends and a day in North Wales. I knew the areas well, so I knew what I wanted to take, which to me is important.
I have been taking photographs for many years, having started at art school in 1970, and had some images digitised from as far back as 1972, working on these has been a feature of my blog. For years most of the photography I did was linked to work, photographing events and projects I had organised, documenting performances and events for others, so concentrating on my own ‘view’ had been put on the back burner. I am beginning to get what I see as acceptable images, finding a ‘voice’ and close to what I am going out for. I often go past places many times before I photograph them, planning what images I want.
I have chosen a series of images for today’s blog from 2013. The ‘best’? I’m not sure that is probably for others to assess, but they are the ones where I think I have created an image which is reasonably close to what I was looking for. Looking back I see that my photographs can be split into three categories. (please click the thumbnails for full size images)
- There are those which create an abstract out of the mass of nature, looking closer than maybe ones eye would just walking by.
- Formal compositions created by the human-made world, especially where nature has impinged on the materials, such as rust, effects of wind and rain.
- The ‘snap’ of what I see as I wander round, found images, sometimes very personal.
In the middle of the year I began to use Pinterest, initially to keep images together associated with a novel I am writing. What it also did was introduce me to many photographers I either didn’t know or had forgotten about, and, for me to gather together images from artists who have had an influence on me from a very early age, such as Ben Nicholson. Pinterest gives me a visual stimulus I go to quite often and I have found things from others’ sites which have engaged me greatly.
In 2014 I am going to continue to evolve the photography and begin a series of images which convey my immediate life/surroundings. I hope that does not sound too pretentious!
I took this photograph on December 29th 1978 from the top of The Sears Tower in Chicago, it was at the time the World’s tallest building. It was a remarkable view. Outside was extremely cold and Lake Michigan in the dark frozen over. Looking down at the city you can see the snow on the roofs and people going home. I think this was about 6pm. I remembered this image as the film was dated, these shots ended the roll and I took the Ektachrome 200 to be developed almost straight afterwards. They are a bit grainy as they are through thick glass and long handheld exposures. I had them digitised earlier this year. It was taken on my Olympus OM-1 with standard 50mm lens. They are just tourist shots but I have always liked them as I like Chicago more than any other city in the USA.
A couple of images I took on Boxing Day that I looked at again. Quite contrasting on what was a cold foggy morning. Summerbank Road in Tunstall was shrouded in mist, the sun just beginning to struggle through, and as shot. The tree trunk was shot in both colour and black and white, it looked quite dead in colour, but when increasing the contrast and sharpness the black and white image in Lightroom it is fairly acceptable and what I was thinking of when I took it.
Whenever I switch on the radio or read the paper lately there are lists of best films, best albums, best theatre, best books, and probably best poos of 2013! So I will now award my Best Album of 2013.
I thought it was a very good year, but then most years recently have, I think the availability of music has led to a much broader range of music. When I was a teenager in the 1960’s we had no way of hearing new stuff, only through the odd programme on The Light Programme and later Radio 1, being as far from the sea as you possibly can get in the UK there were no pirate radio. So now there is so much to listen to and find it is almost too much!
5th – Laura Viers – Warp and Weft – someone I hadn’t heard of until I heard one track then I wanted to hear everything. It is singer/songwriter music of wonderful quality, using a very wide range of instruments and feelings. I love the album and listen to it over and over. Sun Song is magical!
Equal 3rd – London Grammar – If You Wait – a beautiful album full of references and quite stunning singing. Very British I think in its sensibilities.
Equal 3rd – Savages – Silence Yourself – this album knocks the socks off you. It’s like Post-Punk has come back to life but with an energy and anger it hardly reached originally. Fantastic energy, I’d love to see them live.
2nd – The Handsome Family – Wilderness – The Handsome Family make music which comes from the dark parts of the backwoods it’s best not to venture into. Their albums are dark, yet full of a humour and a love of Americana. Wilderness is a themed album, the theme being animals/wildlife, sort of opposite to the songs I remember as a child hearing Burl Ives sing. I would urge you to listen to their wonderful back catalogue which goes back 20 years. Some wonderful tracks with quite disturbing imagery like the Owls who steal your tablets… This has to heard!
My Album of 2013 – Goldfrapp – Tales of Us – a really beautiful album which I know I will listen to for a long time. Another themed album each song taking the name of a person, cinematic in style, sweeping strings and guitars and the beautiful singing. Until I heard this I’d hardly bothered with Goldfrapp, this album takes them to another level. I can put this on anytime and feel better.
Boxing Day – chilly only just above freezing, foggy, quiet. I took Oskar for a walk to the park nearby, past places I see every day, but changed with the mist and whiteness. I noticed how the damp and cold have made some of the birch bark turn a reddish colour. I took a lot of images (being pulled at by the dog) and a few worked out ok. I took them in this square format and also in black and white. I couldn’t get exactly what I wanted from the one ‘framed’ by the gate handle with the lock, and will go back (minus Oskar) so I can use a much slower speed. The light was low in the fog when these were taken at Midday. I’ve had to straighten a couple of the images due to being pulled, but the colour and framing is as taken with some minor sharpening in Lightroom. Click images to enlarge.
Today’s photograph was taken this morning (Christmas Day) at 9.15. I looked through my kitchen window and the wild strawberry plant ‘fixed’ to the wall was bathed in deep yellow sunlight. The sun is very low here and this was the only part of the garden which had any, it is chilly, about 1C at the time I took this, with some frost in the shadows. There are some green leaves left on the plant but the others are brittle red brown. I have not done anything to the image only made it smaller, the colours are as were taken on a square format. Happy Christmas to you all.