Photographs are always real

In response to the WordPress Daily Post challenge <a href=””>Abstract</a&gt;

Abstraction is difficult to achieve with photography. A photograph made in the normal way is always of something real. The thing is there in the real world. An abstract painting on the other hand does not represent reality but is genuinely new and original, a thing that has never before existed in the universe and never will again. An abstract painting can be free of presuppositions but a photograph always has the burden of our interpretations of reality.

Anyway, enough of this artspeak guff. I don’t normally take abstract compositions so I made an effort while out walking to see what I could make and here are three choices that could be viewed as more than just a scene.

In the first image think of the arrangement of shapes in the frame and how they work together to make the composition. Don’t think of farming, don’t think of landscape.


In the next, again don’t think of the form of trees and wood, think of Jackson Pollock and the way the tracery of twigs and branches leads you around the frame.


And finally, you could marvel at the amazing richness of sandstone, lichen and moss but instead think purely of patches of colour.


This is generally not my preferred way of composing but it’s nice to try new things.

Artsmix Leeds, last Saturday

I had a great day at the Artsmix market in Leeds a couple of days ago. I’ve made a new set of framed pictures using my more recent mountain shots of the Lake District and Snowdonia and they looked absolutely great. I’d also got some nicer display gear and on the whole the stall looked fantastic (IMHO šŸ™‚ The new stuff got a really good reaction and I sold a couple of them. The bonus was that nothing got broken or damaged by weather!

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Not surprisingly I forgot to take my camera (again!) and took this shot with my wife’s smartphone.

Cumbria Photography Show

I’ll be exhibiting at the Cumbria Photography Show with my collaborator Richard on the 14th and 15th of May. It’s at the Rheged exhibition centre outside Penrith. I’m really excited by it. Our usual showings are at town centre art markets with a general town centre population as the audience. The Rheged exhibition is different in a couple of ways. First, it’s in the Lake District, which is where I’ve been specialising for the last couple of years. It will be interesting to see how my Lake District pictures go down in the place they were made.

Second, this is a photography show for photographers. There’ll be a lot of good photographers there and it will be really interesting to see how our stuff compares with theirs. I’m looking forward to it.

Artsmix in Leeds this Saturday

I’ll be showing and selling at Artsmix in Leeds again this saturday, the first time this year for this Leeds venue. It’s a great location, lots of people to visit the stall and talk to and always a tempting selection of cake stalls to spend your money on.

I’ve got new framed stock that looks fantastic, I’m really pleased. I’ve also got some new display kit to try and make the stall look a little more inviting. I’m still trying to hit on that magic X factor that makes people from across the street take notice and walk over. I’ll be showing on my own this time, as I usually share the Artsmix stalls with my good friend Richard.

The market is open from about 10am until 6-ish pm. See you there…

The grandeur of the Ogwen valley

This set of shots was taken at and around Ogwen Cottage in the Ogwen Valley, Snowdonia. It’s a fantastically photogenic location with spectacular shots within a short walk of the car and, at the right time of day and year, some good angles of light from the sun. The problem is all the man-made clutter around the place – telephone wires, cars and car parks, farmyard junk, roads, etc. You have to find your angle to avoid this stuff if that’s your preference, as it is mine.

You also have some of the most charismatic names in Snowdonia facing you – Y Garn, Pen Yr Ole Wen, Glyder Fawr and Fach, the Devil’s Kitchen. My personal favourite mountain is Tryfan, I think the only mountain in Wales and England that requires scrambling to get to the summit. These are some of the biggest summits in Wales and England with the winter bonus of snow on the tops.

There is also a concentrated wealth of long rock routes, climbing and scrambling, unsurpassed (IMHO) in the British Isles outside Scotland. No doubt there’ll be many to disagree with that.

Most of the shots were taken with my old Pentax K20D. I can’t fit a graduated neutral density filter on my new favourite, the Olympus OMD-EM10. When the scene’s brightness range demands it I use the Pentax.

Summer’s a bummer for landscape shooters

In response to the Daily Post’s photo challenge on the subject of Dinnertime

This shot was taken at about 8pm – dinner time – in the week after the clocks went forward. I’d had to wait for three hours for this light to happen. It’s much easier in winter because the sun sets earlier and then you can get home for your dinner and some telly before bed. Now that night time is coming later and later my photography habits are getting more and more inconvenient and I don’t get fed until bed-time.



Winter also has the advantage of so much colour on the hills and the bonus of snow. In summer everything’s green.

As the days and nights get warmer I’m hoping to compensate by doing some wild camping and being there for both the sunset and sunrise but I don’t know what I’m going to do for dinner…

The picture was taken from near the town of Ingleton and looking roughly west. I had been out taking shots for one of my allocated grid points in the Yorkshire Grid Project, which I’ll publish later.

Photography is easy, Framing is hard

When I attend art fairs and markets I take a mix of framed printsĀ and unframed mountedĀ prints. Framing is a pain. The frames are easily damaged, one small ding or scratch can ruin it. It’s expensive to get custom frames made, and how do you know what frames people like? What if you try framing a particular print but it doesn’t get any response and you want to swap it for a different one? Can you dismantle it and try again? All in all, framing is a right royal pain in the backside. However, nicely framed prints look gorgeous and make a great impact on the stand or stall.


I’ve always gone for the custom framing route before but now I’ve bought some ready made frames to try. Much much cheaper, they’re nice quality and look great. Because they’re from a major retail chain I reckon I’m fairly safe in the choice of design. The major retail chain knows what sells and what’s on trend and wouldn’t be stocking them if they weren’t popular.


The key for me was the aspect ratio. My prints have a variety of aspects, 3/2 or 4/3 for the digital prints, and various for slide film scans, not to mention ones that have been cropped for artistic reasons. My main worry was whether the mount borders would be all wrong. It turns out that with the two sizes I’ve bought – 50cm x 40cm and 40cm x 30cm – the aspect is close enough that I don’t think anyone will be bothered. The person who fusses most about this is me and they look good to me.


If this works out it will be a major breakthrough. I’ll be able to standardise print and mount sizes and by interchangeable, inexpensive ready made frames that will be less of a heartache to replace when damaged and less of a wallet ache to invest in up front and will let me try different prints in the frames to see what the response is.

And I have to say, they look gorgeous!


It’s easy to find religious discussions on the internet about the pros and cons of cropping your images. Some people think it’s artistic heresy to crop, that you should get the image right in-camera. I think crop if you want to but one very good reason for never cropping is that if all your pictures are the same shape, printing, mounting and framing are MUCH easier. And if you really want an easy time of it, shoot in square format.

An image of the future

In response to the WordPress Daily Post challengeĀ Future

The picture below is, I hope, part of my future.

It’s my stall from my last art market at West Didsbury.

I’ve been doing art markets and art shows for a fair old time while having a full time proper job. A couple of years ago I gave up the proper job to spend more time taking photographs. Since then I’ve been fairly seriously taking and making. Working out what I want to say, what pictures I want to make. I’ve also been working out how to make the art markets a success. Joy and I both have pensions but it would be good to top them up and I hope that photography will be a sustainable source of income well into old age.

Doing art markets and shows is so much fun. Almost everyone you speak to is nice, they’re all interested in your pictures and you get a lot of oohs and aahhs, which is lovely. And if you’re lucky, a bit of spending cash as well.

What’s it all about

In response to this week’s Daily Post challenge Landscape

This week’s Daily Post challenge isn’t so much of a challenge for me as I take landscape shots all the time, it’s what I do. So I thought I’d show a particular picture that means something to me and talk about why.

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Langdale Pikes and Middlefell Buttress

The shot aboveĀ represents a lot about why I took up landscape photography. Many years ago we were visiting the house of friends of ours who were adventurous travellers and experienced mountaineers. They had lovely photographs on their walls of mountain scenes from their various trips. They reminded me of the disappointing holiday snaps we always came back from holiday with, 35mm film prints processed at the high street camera shop. If anything got me into photography it was that desire to get great shots of the mountain scenery we saw on our own holidays.

This picture is all about that motivation. First of all the technical quality is head and shoulders better than my old holiday snaps. Sharpness, contrast, colour, lighting are all so much better. I learned along the way this is in large part down to the abysmal processing of the various high street camera shops.

Second, it’s an almost documentary record of a mountain-side my wife and I know very well. It’s a simple composition, just a head and shoulders portrait shot of a hill but it shows many of the paths and crags we have walked, scrambled and climbed on over many years. I love to pore over pictures of crags, looking at lines, working out routes.

I don’t think this is my best composition but it’s all the things I admired in our friends’ house all those years ago.