Friday, 23 May 2014

Roger Level - 1000 Faces Scotland - Loch Arthur

1000 Faces Scotland will be at Loch Arthur Café and Creamery, Beeswing

I'm not taking part in Spring Fling this year. Instead, on Saturday 24th May and Monday 26th May I will be continuing my search for 1000 Faces of Scotland at Loch Arthur where I will be setting up my studio in an 8x4m marquee.

This non political project involves taking portraits and short personal statements from individuals who wish to take part. In my travels during the next 12 months or so I am hoping to collect a wide cross section of people currently living in Scotland. Running in parallel with this I will also be collecting similar information from visitors to Scotland. So please don’t feel excluded if you don’t live in Scotland., it will be great to see you anyway.

I have recently made an important addition to the project that involves taking a short video and audio. The aim is to capture more of the facial features, mannerisms and variations in language and dialect of my subjects. This will give anyone who comes along the opportunity to “Give Your Tongue a Birl” or simply talk about something that interests you or you feel passionate about.

Loch Arthur is one of several Camphill Community projects. This Newly built Shop and café is an excellent place to visit and enjoy a cuppa along with a healthy meal from their wonderful selection of food and health food products.

I you have never been to Loch Arthur then you will find it midway between Dalbeattie and Dumfries just off the A711 at the Beeswing crossroads. An important note however is that it does not open on Sundays.


Roger Lever

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Allan Wright - Spring Fling 2014 - Studio 42 on the Pink Route

For my Spring Fling this year I decided to try a new technique, using an adaptive digital technology technique. I will be showing these "adapted" images along with a selection of unadulterated new classic and abstract material as archival quality framed and loose hand prints.

I have experimented off and on over the years with the various presets and filters available from Photoshop. I would do this in an exploratory way to see if the experience of viewing of the image could be enhanced without it looking fake or simply "messed about with". In truth nothing really ever took my fancy and so I pretty much left the idea behind until a few weeks ago when I discovered something new and more interesting than anything I had seen before.

After a few long sessions trying this and that post-processing adaptive technique with some of the more recent additions to the Photoshop armoury, I settled on a rather bold textural enhancement method that I thought rather triguing. The trick was more about choosing an image that responded to this enhancement and there were very many abandoned attempts as a ventured through my image files in search of suitable material.

I am aware this style may, in terms photographic purism, be a risky departure but I have never been much of an adherent to highly orthodox views of anything and so I will put myself in the hands of the public and let them decide if I it is a valid expression or not.

I am also aware of a need to define my fine art work from my more familiar and commercially popular descriptive landscape work and so visitors to my studio will see a clearer distinction in style and pricing between my popular landscape work and my more aesthetic material.

Coffee will be good as will Lorna's homemade biscuits. I look forward to seeing you.

Allan Wright

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Leeming and Paterson - Spring Fling 2014 - Studio 32 on the Pink Route

Landscapes Old and New - Iceland and Galloway

Our Spring Fling exhibition this year is a combination of the latest phase of the Zero Footprint portfolio – including a special digital sneak preview of the book to be released in September 2014 - and some of the images taken on our trip to Iceland last October. Inspired by the idea of juxtaposing images of one of the earths oldest landscapes (Galloway) with ones of a very new land mass (Iceland) we think this is another project that will go on for some years.

Below is a brief description of the trip, come along to our studio to hear more stories and discuss venues and future workshops there.

After many years of wanting to visit Iceland and waiting until we had enough time to do it justice, we finally decided (inspired by an episode of Top Gear of all things) to just go for it and take a short break during last October. After all, that way, if it lived up to our expectations we would make time to go back for longer when then opportunity arose.

I had a few days out there prior to Ted arriving – with my mum, brother (also a keen photographer) and sister-in-law during which time there were limited photo opportunities, the kind where you jump out of the car and a couple of minutes later there’s some shuffling and horn tooting and general “have you finished yet?” looks. Even this resulted in some nice shots, the light dusting of snow offering a pleasant contrast to the steep black mountain slopes - given my freedom I probably wouldn’t have got far past the first lay-by.

When Ted arrived we managed to start the more photographically orientated part of the trip with stops scheduled at the Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon and the black sands at Vik. The long road east was fascinating with an ever-changing landscape of everything from old lava fields covered in vegetation to black flood plains, volcanoes to glaciers.

Many hours later we arrived at the lagoon, an incredible glacier fed lake full of icebergs, colours ranging from clear, white and blue to ice blackened with glacial moraine. On the other side of this lies the beach (nicknamed the iceberg graveyard), where multiples of broken off blocks float out to sea on the tide or wash up on the shore itself. Wrapped up in full winter gear we spent several hours here, getting a drenching by the occasional wave – they really do come out of nowhere - before heading back for our fifth arctic char meal of the week.

We returned there for dawn the next day and were rewarded with fairly still conditions, ensuring another few hours sped by before returning to our digs for the legendary Icelandic breakfast.

Finishing up here we started heading back west for our stop in the Vik area. Thrashing waves, black sands and rock stacks kept us well entertained for a couple of days, with the nights interspersed with knocks on the door for aurora
alerts. Unfortunately the skies were pretty cloudy so we only had a small slither visible from land although we were rewarded with a spectacular show on the airplane home. Safe to say we left Iceland with heavy hearts and are already planning our next trip this autumn.

Leeming + Paterson Photography

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Phil McMenemy – Spring Fling 2014 – Studio 29 the Pink Route

Its Spring Fling time again!!

Its funny but every year, and this is my sixth, it creeps up on me and catches me almost by surprise.

The SF is one of the most important and exciting events in my calendar. It’s one of the very few weekends over the year where art, culture and the artists themselves are front and centre stage.

Generally artists work alone and plough a fairly lonely furrow but this one event is one where one feels part of something larger, part of something more meaningful. I am fortunate that many folk come and see me out in Laurieston – and nearly all of them remark on the wonderful scenery, the quiet of the roads and the joy of visiting working artists in their own studios. This contrasts quite starkly with people’s normal experience of art – the SF is hands-on, personal and fun but also important to us artists.

The preparations for me start months before the event – messages sent, plans planned, images selected – sizes, styles and numbers chosen – and always, always trying to make this years Fling a better experience for the visitors than the last one – its a challenge. Pre-match nerves are always there, the anticipation and the planning take over:

Have I done the very best I can?
Are my windows clean?
Are there enough snacks, drinks, wine and stickers?
Will my signs stay erect and proudly direct people my way for the whole weekend?
Will my mother manage to look after the boys in my absence?
Will it stay dry so folk can wander the garden and sit outside with a glass of something cool?

I think we can control some things in our lives but there are some things beyond our control!

However, I hope that folk come and visit me in the heart of the Stewartry and view lots of new work, alongside old favourites.

Its great meeting and making friends (and I have made friends via the Fling) - its good to share my view of Scotland and also hear people’s opinions and thought of it too.

This year I have been very busy with the new gallery which folk can view and have also concocted a wee competition for youngsters to take part in.

Come visit me at Laurieston in the heart of wonderful Galloway – you will be welcome.

Regards Phil x

Phil McMenemy

Monday, 19 May 2014

Kim Ayres - Spring Fling 2014 - Studio 24 on the Purple Route

This will be my 4th year taking part in the Spring Fling Open Studios event, where 90+ studios of artists and makers open their doors to the public for the long weekend of the 24th to 26th of May.

Because I offer a custom, tailor-made service rather than selling prints off the wall, in the past I have taken photos of people during the event as a demonstration of my skills. Last year, anyone who wished to take part could have their photo taken in a trilby and trench-coat as Humphrey Bogart. By the end of the Monday afternoon I had 127 Bogarts pinned to the walls of my studio ranging in age from 2 to 90 years old, 2/3 of whom were women.

While it was a lot of fun, I realised the drawback was I didn't really have time to explain to people what I actually do, and I think some left with the idea I was little more than a novelty photo-booth photographer.

In fact, what I do is allow people to become the hero, heroine, or villain of their own epic image. I meet with clients first to discuss what fantasy they would like to indulge - be it a scene from a film or a book, a line from a poem or song, or something else entirely. We then consider what outfits, props, location, mood, colour schemes etc we would need to make it look fantastic and set about bringing all the things together at a time and place that suits everyone for the photo shoot.

And it doesn't just have to involve one person. We can create a scene made up of family members, friends or even staff.

What I've come to realise is it's not just about the final photo - the experience of the process is also a richly rewarding part for everyone involved.

So this year I'm printing up large some of the fun fantasy scenes I have created with clients, and visitors to my studio will get to see what they are like and find out about the stories behind the images and processes of how they were made. I will be on hand to answer questions, explain what goes on in a shoot and bounce ideas about.

And as a complete indulgence, there will be a prize draw where visitors to my studio will be able to enter a competition to win an epic photo shoot for themselves and/or their family/friends.

I do hope you'll be able to make it along.

I'm Studio 24 on the Purple Route, which can be found towards the upper end of King Street in Castle Douglas, opposite the library and next door to the large, black Imperial Hotel.

A couple of photos that will be on display, printed up to A2 size

Video of a photo shoot I did earlier this year

Kim Ayres

Monday, 12 May 2014

Allan Wright - Timeless Stuff

I am enjoying revisiting Galloway. Not that I ever stopped of course, how could I with such a wealth of material on my doorstep? It's more like I am retracing my steps from the ongoing series of journeys I started taking back in the early 80's.

I have already accepted with some relish that It's going to be an extended déjà vu and one with I hope many personal memories, memories of the type you only get from the precise sense of place that locations gave you on your first encounter. There is an innocence and receptivity involved in landscape photography and it is that initial encounter that rarely fails to make an impression. Experienced photographers may concur here that it is often the first shot you take in a shoot that ends up being your favourite. This is not say that I believe you should shoot from the hip per se, I most definitely advocate a thorough reccy of the scene before the camera comes out of the bag.

Anyway I was reminded the other day of how others might perceive the photographer's domain. A nice lady I met in a shop was pleased to meet me as she had always wanted to make paintings from some of my Galloway images but had restrained herself as she did not want to infringe what she imagined was copyright. With some delight I assured her I was flattered by this kind of thing and encouraged her artistic pursuit wholeheartedly, without any recourse to any copyright issues. Interestingly it was an image of Sweetheart Abbey she was most moved by and to add to the fun she had imagined I had climbed some impossibly big hill at 4 in the morning to get it!

Truth is there is wee back road you can take to get the view and you need hardly even get out of the car!

The upshot of this chance encounter was that I felt compelled to return to the exact spot I took the original picture in approximately 1988 to see what 25 years experience and the latest equipment might bring to bear on this subject. As you can see very little has changed in terms of the Abbey and the village, only the trees have grown a bit. It is interesting that the new shot I chose (not the first one of the shoot alas) is from almost exactly the same angle as the shot I took back in 88 - rationality or instinct, or both?

One was sunrise and the other sunset, guess which?

Allan Wright

Monday, 5 May 2014

The Spider's Prey - Roger Lever

Have you ever walked through grassland with heavy dew on the ground and seen hundreds of spiders webs there. woven with precision amongst the blades of grass?

Next time you do then I suggest you get on your knees and have a closer look . You might see one of these little chaps having breakfast.

I am no expert on spiders but we humans like to give things names. This might be what is called a labyrinth spider but please correct me anyone who might know the real name. Anyway, if you just happen to have a DSLR camera with you and a close up lens attached, get yourself down on your knees in the wet grass and search around.

Find your subject and advance really really slowly. Use manual focus with a suitably low ISO setting. This will give you as much sharp detail in your final photo as is possible. If you are really clever you can rest your camera, focus and shoot even if your exposure happens to be a bit long. Your spider is unlikely to move.

If you have luck on your side at the same time you might get a similar shot similar to this one.

Be patient and take a whole lot of images.

Vary your focus.


Roger Lever