Monday, 25 May 2015

Tom Langlands - Staying on the Rails

The water rail is not necessarily an uncommon bird in certain parts of the UK. Despite this, not so many people will have seen one or taken the time to work out what it was even if they had seen one. Normally, it is a very reclusive bird being heard more often than being seen. It frequents reed beds and tall grasses around the edge of water, only occasionally making a brief appearance to feed in shallow water or scurry  between different locations.

I enjoy 'projects' and 'challenges' and so when I heard that a couple of water rail had been heard at the WWT Caerlaverock nature reserve earlier this year I decided to see if I could spot this elusive bird and photograph it.

Like most wildlife photography it came down to observation, perseverance and planning - or, in other words, about 95% perspiration and 5% inspiration.

I did what I tell every aspiring wildlife photographer to do. Put the camera down, look and learn. I spent the best part of my first day on the reserve trying to work out where it was hiding and if there was any pattern to when and where it emerged. Typically, it was frequently heard and seldom seen. A small area of water near a reed bed seemed to draw it out occasionally and late morning and late afternoon provided the most frequent sightings and the best light.

The next challenge was working out where to position myself. I wanted to be down low to get shots along the water and I also had limited options in order to avoid unwanted reflections.

On day two I turned up with a camping mat, bean bag and a 600mm lens. Several hours later and with a very sore back and neck I managed to get a few 'okay' shots. A further shift of position and day three started to produce some better images. It took the best part of a week to get the photographs that I wanted. It was hard going but as there aren't that many good images of water rail about it was worth the effort.

I am often asked if I get my images when out for a walk. The honest answer is - not often. Most wildlife photographs belie the amount of effort involved in getting them. The best images involve hard work and a lot of planning. But, I also say to people that although I am always pleased when I get a good photograph the real delight is having witnessed the moment.  

Tom Langlands

Monday, 18 May 2015

Spring Fling 2015 - Kim Ayres and Roger Lever

Dumfries and Galloway's Open Studio event - Spring Fling - is this coming weekend - Saturday 23rd to Monday 25th May, 10.30am to 5pm

This year, 2 members of the Galloway Photographic Collective will be taking part - Kim Ayres and Roger Lever

Roger Lever - Studio 62 on the Orange Route

I work with still and moving images exploring the way light shapes and shifts our perspective in a moment. I am on a journey of discovery and learning. If I can please other people at the same time I will be succeeding.

What to Expect: My theme – Scotland’s iconic seabird 'The Gannet'. Images taken at Bass Rock in 2014 will be displayed along with an experimental installation printed and projected onto fabric along with a musical backing. There will be updates on my 1000 Faces Scotland Project.

At the clock tower in Dalbeattie go up Station Rad past the Bank of Scotland until you come to New Station Road on the left. My studio is approximately 50m on the left

Roger Lever

Kim Ayres - Studio 29 on the Pink Route

You can be the hero, heroine or even villain of your own epic image. With the right props, costume, location, lighting and maybe a bit of Photoshop editing, there really are no limits to what is achievable in photography.

What to Expect: In addition to displaying examples of my work, I will be running photography demonstrations throughout the weekend. Discover how changing the composition and lighting of a scene can dramatically affect the emotional impact of a photograph.

Located at St John's Church the crossroads of Cotton Street and Abercromby Road in Castle Douglas. From the A75, enter Castle Douglas and head for the town centre. At the crossroads with the clock tower, turn onto the A713 to Ayr. The Church is less than 100m on the right

Kim Ayres

Monday, 11 May 2015

Holly Burns - Introducing our newest member

As the newest member of the Galloway Photographic Collective, I would like to introduce myself and tell you about my work. I am a conceptual Fine Art Photographer who specialises in compositing. I don’t mean the sort of compositing that deals with head swaps or removing objects from images to make them more picturesque.

Let me explain - the RAW photographs I take are effectively my blank canvas on which I begin to build. I then add additional content, texture, colour and light. Photoshop is my paintbrush that I use to add further mystery, to defy the laws of physics and create surreal worlds.

Although my work is technically complex, really my intent boils down to sending a message, telling a tale or making people look deeper and ask questions. All of my work has a story and everything within each image is added for a reason which is to create a dialogue between me and the viewer. I’m not saying we always have the same story within one image - that is the beauty of conceptual photography, everyone reads them in different ways based on their own experiences. I can only point in the right direction; the viewer creates the story that is relevant to them.

Photography isn’t always about capturing one precise moment in time; there can be a whole series of happenings in one image. We ask ourselves ‘who is this person, why are they here, what is going to happen next?’ and then from the symbolism and the context present, we begin to answer these questions. These are the images I find intriguing and they are the images I love to create.

In order to do this, I must have a clear idea in my head of what I wish to create. Before I even think about setting up my camera to photograph something, I think about the concept. I create the story in my mind, I decide what symbolism I can use to best deliver the story and then I sketch it out and make notes of exactly what images I need to create my vision. It is not the case that I can merely throw images together and make a finished piece. All of the images I photograph must be taken in a manner that considers perspective, lighting, colours and tones, camera focusing, depth of field, shutter speed and wind direction. All of these factors must be spot on or the composite will fall apart in the postproduction stage and all must be carefully planned out before pressing my shutter button.

Once I have gathered all the necessary photographs, the real fun begins. There’s nothing I love more than sitting down with a glass of wine and layering my images on top of each other and blending them together to create a story. It is also very fulfilling when hearing how others respond to my images.

Something that I’m working on right now is producing moving images that will document my entire process from raw images to the completed piece. It showcases the precise connecting of the many images I require to create the surreal and fantasy based Photography. I hope these will offer a greater insight into my working process and I will look to include one of these sometime in the future.

Holly Burns

Monday, 4 May 2015

Allan Wright - Skye at Last 4

There are a handful of locations/scenes on Skye that many of us have had etched into our consciousness over time.  They have a familiarity about them that  has generated a "Mecca" like attraction to those who compulsively need to photograph Scotland's finest. A very brief visit to Skye back in 2006 bagged me my first shot of The Cuillins from Elgol. I was lucky there was something going on with these cattle  probably roaming in search of some nutritiously superior seaweed.

My return 8 years later was different as I had time to check it all out in more detail. The weather was wild and changeable with swathes of cloud, rain and sunshine juddering in from the Atlantic in rhythmic cycles. I was alert and headed out along the boulder strewn shore with some optimism.

I chose my viewpoint with some foreground and settled in for a session. I have mixed feelings about encountering fellow photographers on location, on the one hand I relish solitude, but on occasions, I also appreciate a bit of likeminded banter. Today I met Thierry Frey an ardent image hunter who hailed from Alsace, we shared the time & space and have since stayed in touch on FB, as you do.

I was drawn to the intriguing green luminescence emanating from the rock strewn shallows at my feet. This phenomenon combined with the dynamic cloud patterns whizzing across The Cuillins really got my attention. I noticed that as the light levels dropped with the weight of cloud so did the green luminescence seem to increase in intensity. I should check out the science of that.

Almost in a moment the restless air cleared and these iconic mountains revealed their forms bold and clear. Mysteriously, all this almost without a murmur from the surface of Loch Scavaig, thus I claim the unpredictability of Scotland's West Coast never lets you down. Knowing when to quit is not an exact science but on instinct and at this point Thierry and I ascended to a more elevated viewpoint.

I admit I am a bit of a sucker for a cliché  i.e. I have classic Scottish imagery embedded in my memory from the "J Arthur Dixon" postcard days, heather in the foreground, mountains to the rear!  The rapidly changing, patchy light called for both patience and speedy responses, in this case I love the richness & warmth of the foreground colours and the brooding cool of the distance mountains, it could only be Scotland.

A warm glow and a cheerful sense of fulfilment came upon us as we romped back over rough moorland and headed back to Elgol village. Momentarily distracted whilst packing the gear away and no doubt pondering upon my next location I glanced across the bay to the moored boats to this "scotch mist" inspired image offering itself. After such a generous session is it too greedy to keep going? I don't think so, as Lenny Kravitz says - "Its ain't over 'til its over" That'll do nicely thanks Elgol.

Allan Wright