Monday, 26 June 2017

Tom Langlands - The Poetry of Photography

When I'm not taking photographs I am writing and when I am not writing I am taking photographs. That's pretty much the way life works for me but the division between words and images is far less easily defined.

I love reading and writing poetry and have come to realise that poetry by its nature generates images in the mind and the fact that the subconscious mind has generated the image helps make the poem stick around in the memory for longer than it otherwise might.

I have started to explore this combination of poetry and imagery and have discovered that one can inspire the other. Sometimes I see a scene or an event or a photograph that generates an idea for a poem while at other times I have a poem in my mind and I seek an image that will compliment or raise the profile of the poem. It is a powerful combination.

At the moment it is very much early days for my ideas but one that I am starting to explore more and more.

The following image of a graveyard was taken at a slow shutter speed and with intentional camera movement. It wasn't until I saw the final image on the computer that it made me think of how we create death - not just as images with a camera but also as products of our mind. I then wrote Death by Words and combined image and poem.

Hebridean Lament started as a photograph that I had taken and it conjured a dark, sombre mood that was both literally the end of the day but also a metaphor for the end of life. It was several months later when I found the words to express how I felt about the image.

Message in the Sand was also a case of finding the image first. I stumbled across this dead gannet on a remote beach on Harris in the Outer Hebrides. I have no idea how it died but the way its body lay on the sand made me think of how we treat this planet and the price that life pays for putting profit first. The poem came several weeks later on the back of the image.

But sometimes it is the other way around. I was contemplating the birth of our first grandchild and was considering how a baby would regard its impending birth and what the lottery of life would throw at it - both before its arrival into the world and immediately afterwards. These thoughts found form in The Big Lottery. I then got my hands on a scan of an unborn baby - not my image - and combined the poem and scan. For me when viewed together they are each greater than the sum of the parts.

Therapy came about when my daughter was making paper origami table decorations and I happened to contemplate this ancient asian art-form. It seemed like good therapy and that was the inspiration behind this piece. The image was snapped on a phone in the fish section of a garden centre.

For me there is always a fine line between different art-forms and just as artists create works in 'various media' I like to work with words and images. After all a picture is not just worth a thousand words it can also be a thousand words.

Tom Langlands

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Allan Wright - The Duskmeister

Early last year I was idly looking at new cameras in my favourite camera shop. I was happy enough with what I had, but, creatively I guess I was a little bit in the doldrums. Good salesmanship was applied to this lost soul as I was gently introduced to a new Nikon D500. The principle selling point that caught my interest was its excellent low-light capability. At the time I was approaching a book project which would involve a fair bit of street work, a handy little idea to help justify the purchase.

I have never really been obsessive about equipment relying more on observation and planning to get results. There was a surprise in store therefore when after some early sessions it started to dawn on me that this little piece of technological hardware could take me to low light places hitherto unthinkable, a dawning of the power of dusk hah ha.

I experienced a liberation in terms of what subjects started became fair game. In effect I realised there were no limits, if you could see it you, could capture it. I found I was using the ISO setting (sensor sensitivity) right across the range occasionally up to the maximum of 52,000, always hand held with handling ease and accuracy that really impressed me. Furthermore when the resultant images were tidied up in the Camera Raw app I was completely sold, the image had a look about it and had rendered the kind of shadow detail I had only dreamed about.

As my affection for it grew (sad I know!!) I subsequently nicknamed it The Duskmeister. Ultimately it has been responsible for 60 % or so of the new images in my forthcoming book “Now Glasgow” co-authored with locally based fellow Glaswegian Des Dillon.

Dusk view up the Clyde from Albert Bridge in moonlight – 6,400 ISO

People Make Glasgow – Girls stepping out – by George Square 52,000 ISO

Mural under the Kingston Bridge 3,200 ISO

See you Jimmy – Argyle St - 10,000 ISO

Moral of my story – technology and creativity can jive.

Allan Wright

Monday, 12 June 2017

Kim Ayres - Fashion Shoot at the Rural Mural

"A fashion shoot in front of bold, colourful, urban graffiti," said Morag MacPherson as we bounced ideas around on how to photograph her textile designs.

"Sounds cool - do we know anywhere around here that has something like that on the walls?"


And so that idea was put on hold and instead we grabbed the opportunity to photograph her silk kimonos in a boudoir-style display at The Yellow Door Gallery (see Colourful Kimonos).

However, last year Morag was involved in the Spring Fling Rural Mural project, which saw her teaming up with Tellas to paint the side of a large barn which mixed both of their artistic styles.

This in turn led to the realisation it would be the perfect backdrop to photograph her outfits.

I had the idea of creating a spotlight effect with the models in a circle of light, casting shadows on the walls behind, but that would require an evening shoot.

Jessica, one of the models from the previous shoot, was available, and I'd recently met Katarina, who was completing a photography course at the college. She was also a model and happy to take part.

I'd also been in conversation with Ralph Yates-Lee, hairdresser extraordinaire and owner of Dumfries hair salon, Basement 20 who was willing to come on board and bring with him Jody, another hairdresser, and Jojo the makeup artist.

With a growing team of professionals involved in the shoot, I figured this would be a good thing to video. But because it would involve night time shooting, it would need someone who knew what they were doing.

Enter fellow GPC members, Helen and Jesse of Stargazing Scotland who specialise in astrophotography and Dark Sky tours and workshops.

And so it came to pass that on a Tuesday evening we all descended on Morag's studio to introduce everyone to everyone else and get the models ready.

Katarina gets her hair done by Ralph

Jody and Jojo work on Jessica

Jesse filming

Action man

It was time to head out to the location for the photo shoot. Even allowing for things running later than expected, I assumed we'd all be home by midnight. As it was, I didn't finish packing up until 1.30am.

Once on site, tea, coffee and home made flapjack from a hamper, courtesy of my wife Maggie, went down extremely well, then the shoot began.

With models, hair, makeup and video going on, there were 9 of us on site in total, making it was one of the largest shoots I'd done up until that point. Although it was all extra pressure, I found part of me thrived in the situation. Of course it helped that everyone was extremely professional and engaged in the project.

Here are a selection of some of the final images.

We might have finished later than hoped, but it all worked out in the end.

As an added bonus, here's the short video (under 2 mins) I put together using the footage shot by Jesse and Helen of Viridian Skies. The music is comes from my band, The Cracked Man, where we took our song, Zero Energy, and added a dance beat. I was surprised at just how well that worked.

Textile Design - Morag Macpherson - -
Models - Jessica Lee -
and Katarina Marie Kositzki - -
Hair and Makeup - Basement 20, Dumfries - Ralph Yates-Lee, Jody Crossan, Jojo Patterson -
Photo shoot took place at - Meiklewood Farm, Ringford, Castle Douglas, DG7 2AL
Rural Mural backdrop - Morag Macpherson and Tellas - - -
Video footage - Jesse Beaman and Helen Cockburn - Stargazing Scotland
Photography and Video editing - me -
Music for video - The Cracked Man - -

Kim Ayres

Monday, 5 June 2017

Roger Lever - This Earth is Precious

This Springtime has been one of the most lingering and exquisite that I can remember since coming to live in Dumfries and Galloway.

On my daily walk with my dog Rosie I am constantly in awe of the quiet inevitability of signs of the newly emerging season.

The dramatic change from the dormant hidden life during the wintertime to the vibrant colours and sounds of Spring is perhaps the most magnificent.

I watch the bluebells develop from the earlier signs of life reemerging way back in February to the sea of blue that carpets the whole wood during early May. Coupled with that the birds start singing and building pair bonds. They become less aware of my human presence and more aware of their mates and possible rivals impinging on there little patch of wood. There are at least half a dozen pairs of black birds, numerous pairs of blue and great tits.

The wren blasts out its shrill penetrating call. Amazing for such a small bird. The wood pigeons cooing constantly and doing there courtship display on some high branches of an old oak tree. The woodpeckers rattle away as they look for insect life in those high branches. I can never tell just where they are sometimes as the hammering sound against the bark seems echo and moves in all directions. They nest each year here and it can sometimes be quite difficult to spot just which tree they have decided to make their nest.

Sadly however the hole they have made in the tree seems to lead to its eventual demise once it becomes deserted and infected with fungus. After a few years it is easy to spot all the trees that have had woodpeckers nests in them because often the trunk snaps off during the autumn and winter gales. Meanwhile 6 Carrion Crows patrol the canopy every day 24/7 expressing their displeasure if you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

What often comes to mind at this time of year with this splendour that nature provides is probably the most profound and beautiful statement ever made on the environment. Chief Seattle in 1854 made a reply to the GREAT WHITE CHIEF in Washington who made him an offer for a large area of Indian land.

Roger Lever