Saturday, November 19, 2011

Eggs, Boats & Mashers, Oh My!

Today I've been working on product photography, pack-shots of 'a to m' in the form of kitchen utensils, here's a couple of examples :

Monday, November 14, 2011

Lights, Camera, Artwork!

The view from the corner of College Street and Regent Street.
The newest pieces of public sculpture in Swindon town centre since the fountain have been installed over the last few months and both are now illuminated.

Here's a quick impromptu picture of the College Street Gateway sculpture in all it's glory this evening, along with the pavement lighting which has recently been switched on.

Art often has to be bold and big to make an impact. Most people see the pieces during the day, but they come into their own during the evening when darkness falls.

"You're a big man, but you're in bad shape. With me it's a full time job. Now behave yourself."

The roof of the Debenhams carpark would have to do, rather than one in Gateshead (no-one was thrown off of it though!).
For the Advertising Unit we're currently working on, one of the ideas for the campaign was 'spotlight flash' for subjects.

Philip-Lorca diCorcia photographed with a similar technique on the streets of New York in his 'Streetwork' series. Using a remote flashgun, with a piece of A3 paper from a sketchbook sellotaped into a cone shape and tied on with a rubber band and a sensor fitted to the camera and flash, it seemed to work! 

The camera was on a tripod, I scraped a mark on the floor with a stone, Ed checked the composition was right, then with a timer he'd dash from the camera to the 3 foot wall immediately to the right of the frame, jump up and direct the flash down onto me. We spent about 15 minutes getting the exposure right, as it was overcast and dusk at the time we shot.

I can't help thinking of Get Carter when I see these pictures (not that I look or sound anything like Michael Caine!), but this lighting could make anyone or anything look threatening.

Most of the 1971 Get Carter film takes place in streets at night using available lighting, giving long shadows and unflattering lighting.

What do you think?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Ghosts of Wichelstowe

The shop-window of Swindon's Wichelstowe development, the canal-side houses in East Wichel.

Living in what, during the eighties and nineties, was the 'fastest growing town in Europe', it's sometimes easy to become use to new housing estates becoming part of the scenery. One development in Swindon is different enough to stand out and makes for fascinating photographs.

The lights on the unopened Southern Relief Road blaze through the night, giving an unsettling, eerie feeling.

Wichelstowe sits between the southern parts of Swindon (Old Town and Croft) and immediately north of the M4 between Junction 16 and 15. Known as the Front Garden and officially as the Southern Development Area, it's a collection of three areas, East Wichel, Middle Wichel and West Wichel. High quality housing design elements compliment the many green spaces and the extensive new canal network.

Work at Wichelstowe has slowed with the recession and recovery, but the road and canal infrastructure has either been completed or they are far advanced. As a consequence, the roads serving Middle and West Wichel run through farmer's fields, complete with traffic lights, pavements, road markings, bus lanes and signs to estates that do not exist yet! Some street furniture has been fitted, but remains in it's wrapping!

Having missed photographing the North Swindon development over the last phase of town expansion I'm going to make every effort to capture Wichelstowe.

For more pictures from this project, click the link on the right to be taken to Flickr, or click here.


Wichelstowe Development Site

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Forward Swindon

You never get a second chance to make a first impression and Swindon is currently working on somewhere that gives one of those first impressions.

The forecourt of Swindon railway station is, over the next 8 months, undergoing a facelift, and fellow photographer Ed Howell and myself will be following the work closely. Working in partnership with Forward Swindon, Britannia Construction, First Great Western and Network Rail, we will be creating a photographic record of the site, the work, the customers and the contractors.

Facelifts aren't pretty, but try carrying one out in full public view, with everyone watching!

Regular updates will be posted, so check back soon.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

From The Archives... Recovering After July 7th

The July 7th bombings of 2005 rattled London, how could you reassure passengers that stepping back aboard buses and tubes would be okay?

A simple, stark poster for the London Bombings Relief Fund, that was displayed all over London in the month afterwards achieved what no photograph could ever do. It included a quote from the speech Mayor Ken Livingstone made after the bombings beneath a bold typeface simply saying, 'London Stands United'.

I was heading home from the London 2012 Olympic Games celebration concert that had been taking place in Trafalgar Square across the street. Seeing the poster, I took three pictures of just the poster, but how about getting the poster in context with a train rushing past? 

But I was without a tripod, improvising in the dim light, I placed the camera on the platform and held the shutter open as a Bakerloo train headed Westbound, without a clue as to the zoom, exact composition or much else! The train gathered speed and sped past, the shutter sluggishly closed. And the picture I got is the one you see, one picture and done. Even getting in the watchful eye of the CCTV camera in the right above the platform.

The poster reminded me of all the wartime produced pieces to keep the nation (and the capital) going as things got bad. In 'The Proud City' series, St Paul's is shown defiantly surrounded by rubble and a blue sky, an icon of London still there, not to be shaken.

In the same way, having the transport system running on the day after the attacks showed everyone that the transport icons of London, it's red buses and tubes, were as dependable as always.

Keep Calm and Carry On.

The photograph in this post can be seen, along with several others, on display in the ticket office of Swindon Railway Station.

From The Archives... It's Not What You Think

It's not what you think.

Taken in July 2005, at a celebration concert in Trafalgar Square to mark the winning of the 2012 Olympic Summer Games, at the Nelson's Column side of the square a small platform had been set up for the media and this journalist is trying to type a story on a laptop, shielding his screen from the glare with his jacket.

But still, it's such a fun picture!

From The Archives... London in 2005

Every photo has a story and this first one I've picked from the archive is no different. Taken from the window of an Air Canada Boeing 767-300 plane on approach to London Heathrow, if it hadn't been for snow, it wouldn't have happened.

I was returning from a holiday to Toronto, in the second week of the new year and due to heavy snow and ice my flight was delayed, and delayed and delayed and eventually around midnight we left, London-bound.

After a 4 or 5 hour delay, plus the 7 hour flight, we prepared to land and were treated to a spectacularly beautiful winter's morning over London, I had my Pentax Optio S4 in my pocket and started madly snapping away as we quickly sped over the centre of the capital.

With Waterloo Station, the Southbank, London Eye, Westminister Bridge and the Houses of Parliament, after the overcast, snow-filled skies of Canada, the view through the small window was an announcement of sorts for passengers aboard, "you're nearly home."

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Ways Of Seeing - Mock Thamesdown Campaign

Think of public transport and what do you think?

High fares, dirty seats, surly staff maybe? This can be a popularly-held view, however, for millions of people who choose and depend on buses, trains, subways, trams and metros, a reliable, responsive service has become integral to their daily lives.

The aim of the campaign was to, firstly, appeal emotively to the public about the service and secondly to link everyday events to use of the service - appealing to change people's idea of what the service is if they've never used it.

London Underground has a World-renowned brand and logo. (the bar and circle, or roundel), which has fostered incredible brand-loyalty since it's creation and use from 1908. There's no reason the strict and disciplined use of a logo and branding can't be applied to a local transport company for a town or city in the UK.

Some examples :

For more images from this project, click the link on the right to be taken to Flickr, or click here.


Transport for London brand standards :

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Birth, The Radio Presenter & The Great Photo Caper

What links, the birth of a Swindon woman, the Work's hooter, a local radio presenter and a 5 year old photo?

Twitter it seems!

Recently I heard on BBC Wiltshire's Graham Mack Breakfast Show, that Graham was interested in getting the Work's hooter at the former rail works in Swindon working again. The hooter is still there, at what is now the Swindon Designer Outlet Village. He spoke to Jackie from Liddington about how she'd been born under the sound of the hooter, but because it sounded several times a day, she's never been sure of the exact time.

I remembered I'd photographed a framed 'hooter timetable' at the STEAM Museum several years ago, dug it out and posted it up on Twitter.

Graham then spoke to Jackie again, and using the photo as reference, announced to her on the air that she must have been born at 4.30pm!

Listen to the audio by clicking here, skip to 24.50 for the big hooter reveal!

A nice little local story and a big part of Swindon's history.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Portraiture & Representation : Never Stop Moving

How do you capture an individual's essence in a portrait?

Portrait photography is one of the oldest areas of the art form. Taking a lead from painted pictures of heads of state, to portray their power, wealth and class, photographs took over from the 'official portrait' early on in photography's rise to prominence.

The use of portrait photography as a tool to communicate status was democratised quickly, allowing the middle classes to influence the view others had of their place in society, their town and their neighbourhood.

At the same time, portrait photograph was taken on by establishment, for use of identification of individuals for official purposes. Identity cards, criminal records, employment files, medical records, driving licenses and most importantly of all, passports.

This officialisation gave portrait photography a hard, impersonal edge. Where previously the taking of a portrait was seen as an achievement of and demonstration of status, it took on sinister connotations of tracking and surveillance overseen by officialdom.

These images in Never Stop Moving show that movement, which you'd not traditionally relate to portraits, is instinctive to us all. From nervous ticks, to applauding someone, to dancing to a song, movement is something we all share, but we all do it differently and why shouldn't it be captured in portraits?

For more images from this project, click the link on the right to be taken to Flickr, or click here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Cultural Landscape of the City

At a time of recession and weak recovery, how do you kick-start investment in a town that used to be the 'fastest-growing town in Europe'?

For the first project in the Foundation Degree course, I documented the work commissioned by Forward Swindon, the regeneration company owned by Swindon Borough Council. With many major private-sector led town centre regeneration projects put on-hold, a decision was taken to improve the 'public realm': streets, public spaces and thoroughfares in the main shopping areas.
This work was to give confidence to businesses, investors and the public that investment in the town was still happening and Swindon was committed to regeneration.

Working alongside Forward Swindon and the lead contractor on the work, Skanska, I documented the work on Regent Street and Canal Walk.

For more pictures from this project, click the link on the right to be taken to Flickr, or click here.

Canal Walk project :

Regent Street project :

Green Walls project :

Stacked Wall Fountain :