Scott Conarroe

I was intrigued by the work of Scott Conarroe, in particular his By Rail series which is quite beautiful. What intrigued me more however was the explanation of his technique and his thoughts on the process;

I use long exposures for a number of reasons. The pragmatic explanation is that they are necessary in the subdued light and deep depth of field I like to work with. Conceptually, I like that scenes change continuously while I photograph them, that they look different at the beginning of an exposure than at the end. Long exposures increase a photograph’s autonomy because the truthfulness of its negative doesn’t portray a specific instant that appeared a certain way, it portrays a compilation of moments blended together; they underscore the camera’s roles of abstractor and editor as well as recorder. And long exposures introduce an element of chance into the precision that view cameras are capable of.

I try to complement twilight with streetlamps and other electric highlights when I’m able; I like projecting tension between the vast shifting romance of a sunset and the arbitrary on/off nature of light bulbs. And, yes, I’ve probably invested in these rhetorical positions because I like how dawn and dusk look in photographs. The painterly effect you describe has to do with latitudes of light. I generally work with sky that’s about as close to dark as it is to bright; when the tonal transition from sky to landscape is less abrupt than we are accustomed to seeing in photos the sense of visual unity is greater. I suppose it is slowness and deliberateness in the process that comes across as painterly.

The shortest exposures in By Rail are Streetcar Stop, New Orleans LA (It was maybe 15 seconds, the length of time the streetcar stops when only a person or two get on early in the morning) and Boaters, Kalamalka Lake BC (probably a second or two). The longest exposures are fifteen or twenty minutes: Canal, Cleveland OH and Cul De Sac, Hawthorne CA are among them.



The fact that there is no 'C Type' colour printing paper to be had in the whole of London, and traditional labs and hire darkrooms are threatening closure through lack of business, and the rising cost of film (when you can get it) keeps going up, and the rising price of petrol means your better off walking to Scotland, and the London Gallery scene is pants, and I am a miserable bald git. I managed to get several days of printing leisure to catch up on my back log of By Coastal images. I had a sudden urge to get things going after a few whiffs of similar style project rumours and in the words of Indiana Jones just before he picks up that little fat gold fella in the cave; 'Thats what scares me!" But that's always the case in these circumstances and as I have said before;


But I am fairly confident about this one and the project is well under way now. One of the reasons I started the now famous B Mode was for reasons like this and the fact that I can not only keep a record of what I am doing, but I can also out anyone who tries to pretend they just happened to think of going to that certain place and 'ripping one off...'

The worse case of, shall we call it, 'project clash, oh balls' was an old college friend of mine who took to photographing those yellow signs they put up in London when there's been an accident, or someone gets stabbed, or worse, I'm sure you know the ones. This friend of mine took to the streets at night armed with an RB67 looking for the hints of yellow under cover of darkness. As the project took hold my friend became obsessed with these signs and produced some cracking night shots with the tell tale sign somewhere in the frame. On more than one occasion he had ventured into the shadiest parts of London fighting off thugs and dodging dirty needles and the occasional pellet gun. He was halfway through the project and really excited about what might become of the finished product when the worst thing happened. (No he wasn't captured and held ransom by some spotty teenage posse holding their cap guns sideways). One cloudy Wednesday morning, there on the centre pages of the British Journal of Photography, thirty or more black and white images of yellow street signs, of murder, and all bran and rape. The images where disgustingly bad, but it didn't matter, the damage had been done, his wonderful coloured project of yellow murder, murdered. That was fifteen years ago and my friend has not done a photographic project since...

Anyway, here's two (above) from the By Coastal project to be getting on with. Theres not really a story to go with them, well there is, but I have already written too much. I call them Carousel and The Lizard With The Human Hands.



Its not Alcatraz, its Brighton.!


Its that time of year again...

Shortly after my last London show a month ago I decided to step away from the British gallery scene for a while. My work will still be held with galleries here and will be available for viewing, but I'm not even thinking about having another show for at least eighteen months. The market place here in London is abysmal at the moment and I cant help comparing it to how it was five years and even ten years ago (which was better but still naff compared to Europe and the US). Its like trying to sell sick in a bag and all its done is leave me out of pocket and as bitter as a lemsip.
I have said it before and I will say it again;
'People in the UK don't buy photographs, they buy big TV's and ready meals.'
The inventor of photography, that is to say Great Britain, which has given birth to some of the worlds greatest photographers may well be interested in its history and all those 'golden oldies' as well it should. But its not so interested in its future. Sometimes I think people here don't even know Contemporary photography here exists..
I could go on, but I would rather be out taking photographs and getting in a mood..

My photography will never stop, but the UK exhibitions just might.

Thomas Kneubühler

I stumbled upon the work of Thomas Kneubühler by accident today but enjoyed his Electric Mountain series of which you can see here. I see a fair few images of ski resorts and although four or five would probably have done it for me, I do like them. I love the quality of snow lit by artificial light, its a bit like eating an ice cream at the cinema. Not so sure about the video bit mind (you will have to have a look), a little unnecessary and of poor quality as far as I am concerned. But until I produce my very own High Definition video I should shut my face.
I should point out that his other work does leave me cold, and there not snowy..
'I am not interested in an objective view of the world; I am interested in a painterly

Andreas Gursky


Vincent Fournier.

Vincent Fournier
is simply brilliant and his work rocks. The Big Space series on his website is as epic as it is out of this world and I would urge you to spend some time there.
It seems to me that French photographers are never publicised much here in the UK.(Do we still not get on with the French's ?) Personally I see them as a bigger threat than that Düsseldorf lot and those clinically perfect Swiss types with all their fresh air, glaciers and nice cameras. We need only to look through history for evidence of their greatness, with the likes of Robert Doiseau, Henri Cartier Bresson I invented the decisive moment even though its all staged and I never wanted to be a photographer anyway, Jaques Henry Lartigue I am only six years old and my photographs are ace, and of course Brassai although technically he was Hungarian.
They are out there my friends and they are good....


Shut up and drive..

Space Station motel Gila Bend USA.

I have often thought that America was built with the photographer in mind. You load up your truck, or in my case a three ton van, fill up the tank for a couple of bucks and drive. You cruise for a couple of hours and its a joy. You get hungry, you pull off and stop at Peggy Sues Diner. You get tired you pull off and stop at a Motel. You see something you want to photograph you pull off and take a picture. You get the drift.
In good old Blighty, you squeeze your gear into the boot of a Mini, fill up with petrol and its sixty quid! You drive for five minutes and get stuck in traffic. If You get hungry, you look for a Wild Bean Cafe located in a garage and maybe buy a Ginsters Pasty and a bag of crisps although if you are lucky you might find a little Chef and get a pastry pie. If you get tired, chances are you will cause an accident. If you see something you want to photograph you consider if you may be arrested and accused of being a paedophile.
I have always found it difficult working in the UK, but of course thats not to say I dont enjoy it, even if it does end in a pastry filling. Its a challenge thats for sure, but I do believe that good work does not come without a bit of a struggle. All too often we see the same old thing with photography, usually a reworking of what has gone before. Thats one of the problems with places like America, they make it all too easy, old cars, big mountains, beautiful decay, golden light, all right there in front of you.
Sometimes we need to point the camera in another direction, not just in front of us..



I have been back and forward on Peter Brown's work for a little while now. Its a finely done body of work all based in the United States. Its heavy in Stephen Shore style content, precise and honest, but every time I look at it, it leaves me cold. Basically the work bores me. Bright and technically perfect, Brown's work is fine document looking at parts of America, but to me an image needs to be more than a picture of something, documentation or not.. The images certainly dont make me want to be there which is something I think most people want to feel in a landscape. Nor do they move me in the way of say a Richard Misrach or Joel Meyerowitz image might, but I think the reason here is Brown's use of bright white sunlight which tends to render everything flat and lifeless..
Anyway I thought I would mention this fella who has twenty five years more experience than me and has a lengthy CV to boot, but so what. The real reason is simply because he's been on every blog I have read today, all of which commend him greatly. May be I'm missing something, perhaps its emotion.....
Not for me PB..

Concrete Island..

I really wasn't sure if I could stomach another sea side town this month as I set off for Canvey Island yesterday, but with the hope of a 'Iceland Volcanic Dust Cloud Sunset Marvel', I loaded up the car, filled the old Thermos wth coffee and headed South West.
I can't believe I still get a little bit of that child hood excitement when I see the sea. The memories of sandy egg sarnies on the beach, a runaway donkey perhaps, a kiddy with glass in their foot, and the promise of fun at the fair with friction burns from the Helter Skelter always raises a smile. But Canvey Island (separated by the mainland through a system of creeks underground so you would never know it was an Island) is not your usual sea side town as you wouldn't even know the sea was near by as any view of it is obstructed by the Berlin wall. A great big concrete sea defence and one of the most elaborate I have ever seen. Even when the tide was in I was unsure that this ten feet high barrier would ever fill its potential as I walked alone along its huge shadow. But then, just as I was thinking to myself how glorious it was to be outdoors, a big cargo ship drifted past, and its wake created waves like those from Hawaii Five O. The word Drenched comes to mind, along with, balls, bollox and whats that in my socks...
Well once I discovered why the wall was there I moved on and waited for the sun to set. As it was only two in the pm, and I needed to dry out, I thought I would have a luncheon at Sues cafe and perhaps drink some tea while contemplating my movements. I often arrive way too early at most locations but never mind the waiting around for the light to change or the motivation to kick in. I consider it an important part of the process which is why I rarely have anyone with me as it would bore them to death and I would probably have a tantrum and knock them out at some point.. My thoughts on the Island where this; I would wait until dusk (perhaps have a little snooze in the car), and then when the fairground lights and the street lights came on I would make my move.. Five hours later I was still waiting, it would seem that the entire town was on some energy saving scheme with only one street light working and perhaps a couple of flashing lights from 'Fun land where the fun never ends..'
The promise of a purple haze gloryous sunset was a lie and I began to wonder if that volcano in Iceland did really did erupt or whether all the airport staff in the UK had some party to go to..
Slightly dismayed and let down with what Canvey had to offer I headed back to the car vowing never to return to the isle of concrete. And then I spotted it, an image which would pretty much summed up my day. The crappest knackered old hobby horse for 50p a ride which came with the theme tune to Bonanza (that old cowboy program back in the eighties). But the real gem above it was the CCTV camera in full few which gave me the juxtaposed kind of thing I often look for . I made a few exposures and was about to leave when I was accosted by some big beardy fella who claimed I may be filming kiddies (ridiculous I know), but as always I was polite (although I did think about a quick upper cut to the jaw) and explained my standing in the photographic community. But this was not enough and I had to speak to the owner who was in fact his wife, and boy did she get angry, but not at me (why should she?) but at her fatty of a husband who had tried to swing his weight with me. "You bloody fat idiot! Why are you bothering this nice young man who wants to take pictures of my beautiful 1920's Horse" (hence the camera as the horse was apperntly valuable and the other two were nicked). She then apologised to me profusely and proceeded to tell me the towns entire history over a cuppa...And then I went home.


Heres a few..

Image Jason Koxwold
Image Hin Chua
Image Tim Carpenter

I enjoyed looking through Tim Carpenter's work almost as much as Hin Chua's and then I had a look at the work of Jason Koxvold who's Artic project is fabulous.
I will save the whaffle as all the images speak for themselves..

Yoshihiko Ueda, Michael Hoppen Gallery, London; Marcus Doyle, Diemar/Noble, London; Steve Macleod, Atlas, London

By Francis Hodgson

Published: April 13 2010 23:05 | Last updated: April 13 2010 23:05

Parody of landscape: Marcus Doyle’s ‘Wallpaper (Cumbria)’  (2001)
People respond ever more warmly to the land. Rambling and other outdoor pursuits are more popular year after year. Governments do what they can to help with sites of special scientific interest and areas of outstanding natural beauty and the rest of the armoury of modern protective measures.

A lot of this excitement about the land is rendered through photographs. Cameras are now pretty good, even on a mobile phone, and the simplest digital box can do a great job in Hardy country or the Lake District. Does this make landscape photography ever so slightly vulgar? Too popular, we know, shades ever so easily into populist and won’t-be-touched-with-a-fine-art-barge-pole.

For the high-art crowd over the past few years, the only way to avoid the vulgarity of straight landscape photography has been to make it an exercise in political commentary. There is nothing new about that, of course. Ansel Adams himself, the great fount of modern landscape practice, was an active campaigner for the preservation of wilderness areas by statute. Fay Godwin, the British landscape champion, was concerned with access to the land and became overtly political towards the end of her life, although she had always rejoiced in the multiple social and historical readings of her photographs.

Now three exhibitions in London show the other way to enjoy the landscape. Each artist wants to enjoy the land in a fairly neutral way, for what it is, and each feels obliged to cook up a signature photographic device to identify his approach. They strive to find a way to make the photograph non-neutral, so as to insist to their viewers that the vision presented is that of an artist, not merely that of a camera.

The Michael Hoppen Gallery continues its fruitful determination to bring the best Japanese photography to London with an eerie show by distinguished photographer Yoshihiko Ueda, his first in Europe. Ueda visited Quinault (a rainforest in Washington state) and photographed the bases of trees with tungsten film – a rather arcane product rarely used outside the studio – deliberately not correcting the images for daylight.

Ueda’s book of the Quinault series is a prized collectors’ item, and these large, beautifully handmade prints are no disappointment. His tungsten gives him a blue light on foliage that reminds me of nothing so much as the lovely way green dyes in old tapestries fade to blue, giving a distinctive haunted-woodland colour. In Ueda’s woods, light filters down through trees almost as a solid element of the forest, equal to the sturdy boles or squidgy mosses. The visual effect is as of musical notation, with rhythmic patterns of trees interrupted by strong gaps of light. The psychological effect is to give the light its due as maker of the woods. Without sunlight, these solid stools of trees would not exist.

Marcus Doyle made his reputation with Night Vision, a book whose principal mannerism was the combination of large-format camera and very long exposure. His Diemar/Noble show, a little retrospective, is the widest ranging of these three exhibitions and many of the pictures are not landscapes. But when you see how his purpley-blue carpeted corridor in a modern cinema sucks atmosphere and light out of its dingy original to give back a picture on a monumental scale, you sense the slow contemplation of landscape at the core of his practice.

A field of purple broccoli in front of a nuclear power station strikes a tremulously uncomfortable balance between romantic beauty and sinister reportage. It looks like a surveillance shot of a building that Doyle was not allowed to approach, seen over acres of vegetables that would seem innocent if their colour were not so strikingly “wrong”. Doyle’s pictures are often brilliant, with plenty of delight in the pleasures of slow seeing. One lovely parody of landscape is just a view of the William Morris-style wallpaper at his parents’ house in Cumbria, an aching arts-and-crafts swirl of jungle under a very plain wall-sconce. It makes me feel as if the exposure was a whole childhood long, as though he had stared at that wallpaper and burned every waving frond and tendril into his memory for life.

Steve Macleod, a distinguished printer, clearly knows his technical onions at least as well as the preceding two photographers. The technical tic with which he stamps his pictures is the tilt-shift mechanism, which gives a floating uncertainty to focus and is more normally seen in views where cities are made to seem like models.

Macleod’s study of the little Blackwater river in Essex is a meditation on the way changes in the landscape seem to mirror changes in his own mood. It is self-avowedly therapeutic photography, walking through the woods and making technically demanding 5in x 4in pictures as a calming ritual. To that extent, these pictures are perhaps not wholly aimed at viewers beyond the artist himself, and a certain diffidence results. The best of them – though too many here are far less interesting than the few best – give a lurching heave to the ground like a stumble, a momentary sickening loss of balance.

The challenge for all three photographers has been to find a way to make their views their own. In this they have largely succeeded. The subject is still landscape; but each has developed a technical lexicon that is a long way from the straight recording of the millions of us who point cameras at trees.

Yoshihiko Ueda, ‘Quinault’, to May 1, www.michaelhoppengallery.com; Marcus Doyle, ‘The House Martin and the Cinema’, to April 17, www.diemarnoblephotography.com; Steve Macleod, ‘Blackwater’, to April 24, www.atlasgallery.com



The only memory I have of Margate is an episode of 'Only Fools And Horses' when they all go on a Jolly to the sea side.
Upon arrival I soon realised that it was quite different from the last few places I had frequented and like Dungoness, Hastings and the like it was very windy and exposed which always carries the fear of me having messy hair..
Like so many coastal towns at present Margate appears to have been hit hard by the recession and boarded up shop fronts now seem to be commonplace. One such place, an abandoned hotel, gave way to the Doyle via an open back door and I spent a little time trudging through the corridors fighting pigeons and netted curtains. (If ever you come across places like this and like me love to explore, cover your mouth with a scarf or something, better still a paper mask. Inhaling birdy poo dust is not a good idea).
My main objective of the day was to photograph the Tide Pool, something for which Margate is well known I believe. A bizaare device to say the least and basically a pool of trapped smeggy sea water which appears bottomless due to its murky nature. As I looked around for a good angle on the effluent container a young chirpy lady asked me if I knew how deep the pond of brown was, to which I relied "Well, there's only one way to find out!" And so without further ado she stripped to her bikini and ran fearless into the soupy abyss. After some bizaar noises and splashing about she appeared triumphant, wet and cold and immediately started to dry herself on a towel. Being the gent I am I continued with my picture search pretty much ignoring the lady who I believe may have been a little potty. My search was disrupted when a shrill from the potty one cried out across the pond and I turned to see that the wind had joyously blown away her towel and the top of her bikini. Now this is the point where I could argue that I wish I had a digital camera. But thankfully my Dark Cloth saved the young woman's dignity as I took charge and ran after her towel like a dirty dog. I retrieved the towel and returned it to the damsel who was most grateful if a little shaken..
It turned out to be a fine day. Right up to the point when a drunk local girl called me baldy man and then threw up splashing Alco Pops and candy floss on my Timberland Boots...
Dont you just love the British Sea Side...

I picked up the new monthly sized BJP the other day as it was a special on Landscapes and the kind of work which is right up my street. Although a little sceptical at the Journals new format (and price for that matter) I was not disappointed, and its chock full of goodies. My only complaint is that so many of the images, although fabulously reproduced, are a little small in parts with most images being not much bigger than a 5/7" print. I could also go on and say that there could of been a lot more British Talent in there too, for instance my old chum Johnny Darwell got a mention from the Editor, but fails to don the pages of the magazine (they could of taken those awful tree pictures of Simon Norfolks out for instance).
I still remain sceptical though as I don't think the BJP will top this issue, at least not for me. Cant wait for the wedding issue.....
You can go here to see a bit on line, but its much better in print..


I was supposed to be having an event at the gallery tomorrow night. An evening of fine wine and chitty chat. After a few glasses of the Chardonnay I was going to do a little talk about my images, a kind of walk around thing, and then give everyone a copy of my Night Vision book (paperback version). Two thousand invites and not even enough replies for an arm wrestle.
May be it's timing, may be its the location, may be its because people have discovered I am a moody git, or may be, just may be, people won''t pay ten quid (for fancy wines, not wine from a box under the counter, or money in my pocket) for as much wine as they like and would rather pay twenty five quid a pop at the Sanderson Hotel around the corner..
Well at least I never took the time to do one of my famous Power Point presentations.
May be if the event was a freebie (a bit like an opening) there would of been an overwhelming response (a bit like the opening). But you can't expect everything for free can you?
I thought it wasn't bad for the price of a cinema ticket.
But I'm not bitter, just glad I saved myself a tenner..


I found this video on night photography via the Guardian website which made me laugh but probably for all the wrong reasons.



image Michael Corridore
image Alan McFetridge

I was, to say, intrigued by The Kitchen, not a fine dining restaurant, but a photographic agency with a fine array photographers. The high volume, and high quality of work left me wondering why I had not heard of this agency before. After studying every photographers work and a lot of oh's and ahh's I went to the contact page (as you do) and discovered that they where based in Australia! I would challenge anyone to know this before hand. Theres Utah, The Salton Sea, London, and even good old Dungoness in there to boot with very few images actually made in Australia itself.
Its also interesting (and a little frustrating) to find that so many places have global photographic appeal, and tend to be shot in the same manner...

Lets cook up some photographs..


The quest continues.....

Picture the scene of a beautiful day somewhere in Felixstowe. Perhaps your walking your dog along the beach, eating a sandwich while sat on big a rock, or making out with your partner. The sun is beginning to set and its all quite lovely. Suddenly the silence is broken by a string of loud Northern vulgarities from some bald twit with a big camera. He lays straddled between the wet slimy green rocks, his camera held aloft, cursing and shouting things like 'Stupid Green Rocks', and 'I hate the fecking sea side.'
Photography trips rarely go to plan (mine anyway) but yesterdays was a bit of a doosey, it has to be said. After my little fall (the truth be told I slipped and fell three times after ignoring all the signs) I made my way along Felixstowe's quaint little sea front drenched in the glorious blue twilight with my lime green stained pants and scuffed head until I came to a wonderful looking shop selling candy floss and sweeties. The pinky interior gave way to a beautiful contrast against the 'Doyle Blue' sky and so I approached the shop keeper and told him I planned to take a picture. 'No Problem, be my guest' he replied and I quickly set up my camera. Imagine my delight as the shutters started to come down and the lights were turned off just as I was about to insert a dark slide. I could only imagine the shop keeper doing a little dance and saying, "I bet that was the idiot who was shouting and falling around on those rocks.."
I then made my way to the sandy beach in the hope of doing Doyle style pier in the twilight type thing before the light faded. I had to work quick, but had spotted a scene I rather liked earlier and so with my busy hands was soon ready to release the shutter. Then Harry arrived, a man of small stature who looked as if he was at least a hundred years old. His aim was to stand in front of my camera and ask me lots of questions so I couldn't make my image. Such a nice little man I felt obliged to chitty chat with him and hear his stories of when he was a wee boy living by the sea. I knew straight away my day was now finished and all I would have to show was a couple of pictures of green slimy rocks.
Such things may seem quite trivial to the casual onlooker, but to a photographer trying to make his way, these mishaps are a real arse.
I bid you adjure.


The money shot..

Clacton on Sea 2003

So as the wet 'By Coastal' project continues I found myself South Eastward again only this time I took on the delights of Clacton on Sea.
I first frequented Clacton around the same time as Southend all those years ago when hair was my friend and food my enemy. Those days where a lot more simple, day trips to the sea side with a picnic and a small camera in a bag. Now its two bags, a dirty great tripod and a large format camera.
What I am finding most interesting is the difference in the coastline and how the light and sea changes, even after a few miles. Its also fascinating to see how the locals adapt and utilize the sea, building piers, fairgrounds and Candy Floss treats.
I think if I see this one right through it could be something, but lets not get carried away as I have only covered a small percentage of Britain's coast.
So back to Clacton. The wind blew and the rain turned to hail (you can always see it coming in when your on the coast), but of course that did not stop Doyle in his quest to find all things salty, especially after going into that famous umbrella shop in London (James Smith) and purchasing a custom made, wind proof, brolly with its carved handle in the shape of a ladies breast. My legs may have been wet, but my camera and head were dry.
My timing for the trip was perfect as all the pier rides where been rigged for the Easter weekend so there was no one around, that was until a group of around thirty kiddies ran past me and headed for the end of the pier and possible death by large brown waves.. But they all soon came back (too many to count so I can only assume) drenched to the core and wanting a group picture to put on Facebook. Didn't have the heart to tell them I was shooting film and had no intention of photographing the little buggers anyway, but I did pretend to take a picture just to get them to go away. And they did..
Usually when the wind, rain and dark cloth are in my face I erupt into a volcanoe of Northern rage, but today was different in that for some reason I remained calm looking forward to my coffee and oatcakes.
As the weather became 'unusable' I headed for the car, soggy but quietly content. But I wasn't ready to go home just yet and headed for Frinton, the last town attached by the Luftwaffe in 1944. Frinton on Sea is a beautiful little place with golden sandy beaches and some fabulous seafront houses and to be honest it was quite a surprise. As with Clacton pier, Frintons was being prepared for the Easter crowds and I walked through the amusements uninterrupted which was dark, and very eerie it has to be said.
I could see a storm front approaching and decided to make my way back. One rule I always follow is to make sure I have at least one dark slide left, just in case I see something worth capturing on my way homeward. As luck would have it the storm clouds gathered in just the right place and the sea darkened to dramatic effect. The slippy green jetty gave contrast and pleasing composition to the final image. I calculated my exposure and decided to add a couple of Neutral Density filters to blur the sea, but on opening my filter pouch a gust of salty wind took the filters from my hand and blew all twelve of them across the sandy beach. So deciding to scape the ND filter usage I said goodbye to a thousand pounds worth of filters, now scratched and sea bound, and made my image.