Don’t know what to call this post.

London. It’s a magical place for me. I love to spend time there, generally just observing what’s going on, soaking up the atmosphere. It helps if it’s sunny, which it sure was yesterday.

I was in town on a photography trip. One of a few I’ve done recently, aiming to (a) shoot some interesting photographs and (b) visit galleries for inspiration. But it was a struggle. It didn’t help that I’d only decided to go that morning so hadn’t properly researched where to go. I visited the National Theatre, who I thought were hosting ‘The Press Photographer’s Year’, an exhibition I’d really enjoyed last year. No sign of it. Turns out the webpage I’d looked at was an archived one, still talking about last year’s show. Oops.

Thankfully, there was, by chance, still a photography exhibition on, which I did enjoy: “Silent Exchange: the landscape photography of Charlie Waite“. Now, typically, I’d never heard of Charlie Waite, but whoever he is he takes a dark fine photograph. You can see loads of his work if you click on the link above. It wasn’t what I’d hoped to see, but it was beautiful and, for want of a better word, ‘inspirational’. (More on that later.)

The other abortive trip wasn’t really my fault; when I looked in the morning The Photographer’s Gallery’s website was still showing a couple of exhibitions. When I arrived later there were signs up saying all exhibitions closed, only cafe and bookshop open. I was told that the exhibition I’d fancied, “Fresh Faced and Wild Eyed“, had closed on Sunday. Yes, the day before. Shame they hadn’t updated the website. (Yes, I know I should have checked the actual dates, but it – and another – were still listed as ‘current exhibitions’ when I checked.)

(Side note: if you were curating an exhibition space with three separate floors of galleries, would you aim to stagger the changes to avoid any times when there was no shows on? I know I would, but then I’m not a curator.)

I did manage to get to two shows. The Michael Hoppen gallery, just off the Kings Road (no, I’d never heard of it either) was featuring an exhibition of work by Harold Edgerton. Who? I hear you say? He was the pioneer of ‘strobe flash’ photography, capturing multiple exposure photographs showing movement in action, or freezing movements.

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Gussie Moran, 1949 © Dr. Harold Edgerton

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Diver, 1955 © Dr. Harold Edgerton

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.30 Bullet Piercing Apple, 1964  © Dr. Harold Edgerton

I enjoyed it greatly, and found it, erm, ‘inspirational’. And as a bonus they had another exhibition of work by William Klein – who I’d also not heard of – and that was even better. Another set of old photographs – which is interesting because I’d say I’m more interested in contemporary stuff – and they fascinated me. In some cases, as often, questioning just what it was that made them stand out. It was (wait for it) inspirational.

2699Big face, big buttons, New York 1955  © Michael Klein

2700Moves + Pepsi, Harlem, New York 1955 © Michael Klein

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Anne St Marie + cruiser, New York 1962 (Vogue) © Michael Klein

And then down the road I wandered, when I happened to stumble across the Saatchi Gallery, which I’d never been to before. So glad I popped in – it’s a beautiful place. Okay, so some of the artworks on display were pretentious crap, but others were clever and interesting and beautiful, and more importantly they were all displayed to carefully and given masses of space to ‘breathe’ and be enjoyed without distraction. Lovely.

And they also had one gallery showing a photography exhibition, was of course suits me down to the ground. This was “In our paradise“, showing work by five photographers from Ukraine, and it was great. There was some other photography in the Saatchi, too, which I liked but didn’t make a note of the artist so can’t really tell you about.

Well, visiting exhibitions was one element of my trip. The other was taking photographs. And, you know, despite all this alleged ‘inspiration’, I wasn’t feeling ‘inspired’. Okay, so I shot some okay-ish scenery, and a few okay-ish people, but really nothing to get excited about. And all the way home and since I’ve been thinking what do I do with all this ‘inspiration’? How do I translate some inkling of this creativity that I seek out and enjoy into my own work?

And, equally pressing in my thoughts, how am I ever going to actually make any money out of this photography stuff?

I’ve told quite a few people recently (well, they ask, you see) that I’m not under any illusions that I’m going to graduate next year and immediately start earning a full-time wage as a photographer. That’s not how it works. Heck, am I even going to scrape a part time wage? I’d like to think so. But how I get from here to there is just too daunting at the moment.

TaxiTaxi Driver © Trevor Coultart 2014

South Bank Undercroft
Artist at Work  © Trevor Coultart 2014

 

The beach on the south bank seemed busyCity Beach © Trevor Coultart 2014

You can see the rest, if you must, here.

(And, yes, I think that is Richard Curtis, but I didn’t notice until I looked at the photograph at home.)

Another photographic wandering

Popped over to Hitchin with my camera this morning. I’d planned to set myself up somewhere and shoot for another one of my composites (see these I did last year) but couldn’t really find a great place to be, so ended up wandering. As usual when I first get somewhere, it took a while to build the confidence to start photographing people, but the market was on which helped a (little) bit.

HitchinBoring view of Hitchin High Street

GroundworksI ate here recently, and it was very lovely.

Skull and CrossbonesSkull and Crossbones headstone at St Mary’s Church

Serving upServing up (it all looked and smelled delicious)

I call this one "wishful thinking"And I call this one “Wishful Thinking”.

A few more here, but overall disappointed with what I came back with.

 

Photo-a-day. A new chapter.

Those “photograph a day” things. I try them, sporadically, but always drift away after a while and then miss them. There are loads of ‘Daily Photograph’ challenges around, but the one I’ve usually used is one published by Australian blogger Fat Mum Slim. (Actually she’s called Chantelle, but heck this is the internet so I guess anything goes.)

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Chantelle’s been publishing her monthly list of suggested ‘prompt’ words since January 2012 and has amassed a huge number of participants. Since being introduced to it by a friend a while back I’ve dipped in and out. My last attempt to keep it up started in May last year and looks to have lasted for 75 photos – and that’s with long gaps in. (You can see them over here on Flickr.)

Well, I’m about to start again. Another short-lived involvement? Who knows. But this time I’m doing it a bit differently. Oh. Yes. I . Am. For one thing, Chantelle’s Photo-a-day has been so popular she’s taken it to another lever herself and has just launched a dedicated iPhone app, “Little Moments“.  You don’t need the app to take part, but it looks to be a great way of keeping up to date with each day’s prompt. You can shoot and edit your photographs right there in the app, and it links straight through to Instagram or Facebook to publish your pictures with all the relevant hashtags ready loaded. Anything to simplify things is welcome with me. Using the app will mean I’ll be limiting my photo-a-day submissions to iPhone photographs rather than those taken with other kit. Oh,  and the other change is that for the first time I’ll be putting photographs online somewhere other than Flickr. I’ve resurrected a dormant, empty Instagram account that I opened but never used, and it will be the new home for my Photo-a-Day photographs when I jump back in on 1st July. Which is Tuesday.

I’m trevorcoultart over on instagram (as I am pretty much everywhere else) so feel free to follow along, though if you’re already following on Twitter or Facebook I’m sure I’ll be pumping out links each day. You know, just to totally bore you all.


July’s list of prompts

(As well as making it easy to participate, the app also has a range of filters and cheesy text overlay options that I don’t expect I’ll make much use of. But you never know.) 

Rural wanderings

Been spending far too much time in front of a computer lately, so made a point of getting out behind a camera this morning. I was on foot, so only wandered a short distance from home, but I’m right on the edge of town so headed west for a bit on the public footpath network. Here are a few of the things I spotted.

Low-level livingThis oddly-placed bird box.

Lines of cropsParallel Lines

Field of wheatLots and lots of wheat

Hi-flyersThese guys reaching for the sky

Wheat Macro
Here’s a closer look.

Stevenage Water Tower

And here’s a surprise. I’ve always known that the Water Tower is built at the highest point in Stevenage, but it’s never occurred to me that you’d be able to see it standing out above the rest of town like this. Here’s a map to indicate roughly where this is taken from. Amazing how much of Stevenage is hidden from view from here.

water tower map

 

Update. Of sorts.

Hello? Anyone there?

Well, if I have no readers left here I can hardly blame them. When did I last post anything of interest? Yeah, totally don’t answer that. We’ll call it ‘rhetorical’.

Hey, do you know what’s been on my ever-changing list of things to do for ages? Post something on here. I even got as far as making a wee list of things I wanted to talk about. (Get me! A list!) A general review of Degree Course year two. A thing about getting a few photographs featured in Hertfordshire Life magazine. Some stuff about the Degree Show I went to. Initial thoughts, even,  about what I might plan for my own show next year. Something about creative writing with some thoughts about how much I’ve enjoyed a blog written by a friend. Other stuff.

And have I actually sat down and composed any of these ideas into a blog post? Have I heck.

But wait, hang on. You’re reading something here right now, aren’t you? So I have written something. Whoop-de-doo.

All those things listed above may get a mention. One day. But each needs a little thought and I clearly haven’t given any thought to this meaningless ramble.

I should mention something, really. Anything. Oh, I know, this will do: I’ve been working on a new photography website, and have just put it live over at coultart.com.

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Mostly pleased with how it looks and works, but still feels like an early draft so if anyone has any comments I’d love to hear them. I’m still uncertain about quite what needs to be on there (The ‘about’ page in particular is rubbish) and the selection of photographs isn’t always consistent with the gallery headings Ive chosen. Seriously though, if you have anything to say, you totally should.

And, er, that’s enough of a ramble. Egads what happened to me. I used to be a pretty good blogger. (Note: for ‘good’ read ‘at least fairly consistent’)

Customer service award of the week goes to…

…Apple.

After an amazing family holiday (Jamaica, don’t you know) we decided to make a photobook, and made it using Apple’s iPhoto, as that’s what we use to store and organise all our family photographs. (My university and, ahem, ‘professional’ stuff being organised by Lightroom.)

The book creation part of iPhoto did a good enough job – not as versatile as InDesign, but what do you expect – and we ordered the book. It was due to come by Royal Mail, and was duly dispatched on time.

But then it didn’t arrive.

The delivery date range passed, and I let a further two days pass to give them the benefit of the doubt, before phoning. Apple’s response? A new book printed and sent, this time by courier, AND a full refund. Despite that fact that it would appeared to be the Royal mail who’d lost it.

Which is pretty much perfect.

[Postscript: the new book arrived by courier there day after it was dispatched. The original book then arrived by Royal Mail the very next day.]

The benefits of post-production.

A friend posted this photograph on Facebook the other day, as an illustration of what she thinks of London (“mostly dull with occasional nice bits”).

Gill St Pauls before

It caught my attention because I’d recently shot a similar view of St Paul’s. But mainly because I thought that her photo could look a lot less, well, dull, with just a tiny bit of post processing. So I nicked it from Facebook and spend probably less than a minute in Lightroom to come up with this.

Gill St Pauls after

Still far from perfect (some very odd things going on in the sky, for example), but I thought it a good illustration of how much detail your camera (in this case, a Fujifilm Finepix JV110 compact) might have picked up that’s hidden from you unless you know how to pull it out. All I’ve done here is boost the exposure, pull up the shadows, and increase the clarity a little. (Oh, I tell a lie, I did also drop it into Photoshop just to straighten up the buildings a touch.)

Lesson? Don’t be disappointed if your photographs come out badly – there may be more to them than you realise.

Thanks, Gill, for letting me republish these on here.