Monday, 3 December 2012

Leo and Peter working the angles at the Forth Rail Bridge on Friday evening, as the rain began to fall.
I think the early winter afternoons proved to be very successful, as the light changed quickly and sometimes dramatically. We had quite a variety of light, from spectacular to flat, intense and contrasty to black night, and we even had a dusk squall and downpour to run away from to give us the total immersion experience.
We didn't have too much opportunity to have a good look at all of your pictures, which is a downside to location courses. You're still welcome to send me some examples and I'll try to get back to you with some feedback.
We can only scrape the surface on these courses, and really, if you want to progress and to sustain your enthusiasm it helps to join groups of photographers for excursions and discussions over a long period.
The Stills Democratic Camera Club is ideal, but it is taking a 6 month sabbatical. is an organisation of 'independent-minded' photographers who see photography as a form of expression as well as art, and look a bit further than pictorial beauty when making photographs. They run portfolio sessions, organised by David - - for inspiration, is an online contemporary photography magazine. - is the camera club for the city, with competitions, talks and a busy calendar of activities. - for inspiration is an online magazine focussed on landscape photography, usually in a traditional pictorial style. Lots of good technical detail too, if you like that sort of thing (which I do.) is an informal group of digital photographers who organise meetings and shooting excursions in and around Edinburgh.
It's been a pleasure working with you over the past few weeks.
Feel free to drop me a line if I can help with anything.


Thursday, 29 November 2012

30.11.12 South Queensferry

For the final afternoon we can visit South Queensferry, meeting at the car parking opposite the Hawes Inn. Right under the bridge.
I'll meet Leo, Peter and Sharon at Stills at 1.30 and then we'll make our way to South Queensferry as soon as we can.
We have a nice high pressure weather system on us, which usually brings settled weather, and cold temperatures. As it gets darker, the bridge will light up and make a good colour contrast between the warm tungsten light on the red bridge, and the blue of the sky. We may even have some high alto-cirrus cloud for added attraction.
The main decision of the day is likely to be where to photograph the bridge from (assuming that's what we want to do.) This will depend to a great extent, on how wide your lenses are. With a very wide lens you can be close to the bridge, and the distorting effect of the lens can introduce some dramatic spatial effects, as well as allowing you to include all of the bridge and some sky and water too.
With less wide lenses, you would need to be further away, and achieve images that have a similar perspective to our own vision. 
Also we need to consider whether to be looking west or east - it seems a simple enough choice, but it can be very committing.

You might think that the bridge has been photographed once or twice before, and you would be right. But that's no reason not to give it a go. Richard Misrach lives in a house that overlooks the Golden Gate Bridge in California, and photographed it over the course of a year from exactly the same spot. The results are so varied, that when I looked through the book the first time, I didn't realise that it was the same view! Maybe that says something about me though.

Richard Misrach, 2.21.98 4:46 pm (View From My Front Porch)

Tuesday, 27 November 2012


A quick note - David has said he'll bring some prints from the shoots of the past few weeks to have a chat about.
If anyone else would like to do this too, please bring them along - inkjet a or speedy Jessops prints would be fine if time is short.
I'll bring a few prints that I've just made too, although they aren't from this course.
We can have a coffee or something similar in the Hawes Inn to finish - it's a tradition.

Monday, 26 November 2012


A Guardian audio slideshow with photographs by Murdo McLeod, about Harris tweed.

Here's the link: 

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Friday Nov 23

View Larger Map

Access to the Broxburn Bings is from the industrial estate, the 1st right junction after the roundabout as you enter Broxburn East Main Street (the A89).
I will meet Leo at Stills at 1pm, and then pick up Sharon at work around 1.30pm and hope to get to Broxburn for 2pm (traffic permitting.)
Peter, do you want a lift from Stills?
Sylvana - I think you were going to contact David. If you haven't managed, you may have the wrong number. Contact me for the number -

The bings are a west lothian phenomenon - the mountainous waste and spoil from the oil shale industry, creating a unique and unusual mini-mountain range, now being colonised by wild flowers and young motorbike scramblers. It's a slightly surreal and in parts steep landscape that lends itself to the style of photography that has been called 'industrial picturesque.'
Josef Koudelka's epic, ominous and slightly disturbing pictures of the forgotten and abused back corners of industrial Europe are a fine example.
Also worth looking at are Richard Misrach's huge photographs of the 'man-mauled' landscapes of american deserts, weapons testing sites and industrial flotsam and jetsam. His early series of pictures of deserts at night, with lit-up cactus could be useful viewing. Judging by the video the book reads itself, so worth £225 just for that.

The bings are accessed by crossing the canal by a bridge, then walking through some birch wood and scrub for a few minutes, then into the bings themselves. Some areas are steep, but these can be avoided if you're not comfortable with it.
It will get dark, and if you have torches, please bring them, as it is a bit rough underfoot, with no street lights. And steep, did I mention steep?
The glow from the town and the evening sky can register in the pictures if the exposure is long enough. There are also wind-blown hawthorn bushes dotted over the bings. We could try doing some long exposure pictures, and light up the bushes with flash or torches - a bit experimental. So tripods if you have them, torches, flash gun too. I have various spare bits and bobs and I'm sure we can cobble something together.
If we're trying this we need to decide on a suitable spot that we can get out of in the dark...
I'd wrap up warm too. Weather looks ok at the moment.
Josef Koudelka - Magnum. Region of the Black Triangle (Ore Mountains.)

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Friday November 16

We could meet in Newhaven tomorrow. There's a parking area just by the Harbour Inn, Fishmarket Square, off Newhaven Main Street. See the map at the bottom of the screen.
There are contrasting environments to explore. Newhaven village itself is an old picturesque village, with a harbour and coastal views west along the Forth and across to Fife. It has its own historical photographic associations with Hill and Adamson. There is also a modern housing development along Wester Harbour, which people seem to either love or hate. It's a waterfront development that I thinks is a bit exclusive, and modern, with clean lines and enclosed courtyards.
The city, its architecture and inhabitants' relationship with the built environment is a rich source of photographic inspiration, which doesn't depend on the subject being conventionally scenic.
Horst Hamann has a fine series of pictures of cities, often using a 'vertical panoramic' format.

Rene Burri engaged in a long-term photographic study of the work of Le Corbusier,

Raymond Depardon, also from Magnum, seemed to have a recurring interest in such apparently unphotogenic subjects as car parks, roads and the infrastructure of motor vehicles.

Raymond Depardon, Magnum Photos
Bernice Abbott created an iconic portrait of New York, in a modernist celebration of a buzzing metropolis.
Bernice Abbott

Many of these pictures are taken in a spirit of celebration, which is a good motivation for shooting, and photography into the 30s was often a celebratory exploration of the physical world and the unique qualities of the photographic process. In fact one later photographer actually said, "I photograph the world to see what the world looks like, photographed." The implication being that the world and the photograph are slightly different.
In the 60s and 70s, in reaction to photographic grandeur and visual drama, many photographers took to exploring the less majestic parts of the city, and also the things that get in the way. Lee Friedlander for example, made a consistent study of the signs, lamp posts, and general visual clutter of a modern city, often shooting in apparently random street corners and junctions of streets. 
So a defining characteristic of landscape photography is the domination of a pictorial style, related to and developing from Romantic painting, whereby the photographer tries to show a landscape at its most dramatic, magnificent and intense; and often being tempted to help reality along in the process by adding a different sky or other elements. The photographers I've mentioned here are presenting a different point of view, less lyrical, less obviously pictorial and in Friedlander's case, he is going in completely the opposite direction. Whatever the rules of the picturesque may be (and there have been rules), Friedlander did the opposite. Gleefully.
Lee Friedlander

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Monday, 12 November 2012

Walk Highlands

A couple of people have mentioned visiting the rest of the country for photographic trips.
An excellent online resource is Walkhighlands:

Walkhighlands website

It has low and high altitude route descriptions, with short and longer, more strenuous excursions. Maps too, and readers submit their own experiences and photographs. I don't work for Walkhighlands, in case you wondered!
The link takes you to Coire Ardair, near Loch Laggan. 
The big panoramic photograph (click on it, if it isn't displaying at full size), was taken at the high lochan  below the summit cliffs on Sunday. A magnificent place, very wild and hidden away, but surprisingly easy to get to, with no navigation worries. It takes a couple of hours to walk there, on a good path.
A panoramic stitch shot, of Creag Meagaidh in unfriendly weather

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Heroic photographers

A group of heroic photographers at work, braving the wind, waiting for the light...

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Friday November 9

So the plan is to visit Swanston village.
The google map here at this link should show the location. It is across the bridge over the bypass, to the Swanston village car park. The bridge is accessible from Oxgangs Road. 
I will be at Stills at 1.30pm for those who are travelling with me, and expect to get to Swanston for 2pm.
My mobile is: 07774 477 058 or email: if you need to get in touch.

The village itself is absurdly pretty, and has historical links with Robert Louis Stevenson, whose 'Picturesque Notes' to Edinburgh makes for entertaining reading, especially his descriptions of the downright meteorological purgatory of Edinburgh weather.
I hope it won't be purgatory, but that's all in the timing. According to the chart, and the forecasts, the cold front should pass around mid-dayish, and that can leave us with mixed sunshine and showers, and varied clouds with fresh cool temperatures.
So thinking about our loose theme for the course, tomorrow we will be in the border area of weather fronts, which can be a visually interesting place to be.
We are also on the city boundary, with urban environment abruptly changing to a 'rural' one, albeit mixed with pylons.
And we are operating in the boundary between light and dark, and some photographers make a habit of shooting during this dusk, or gloaming, period.
I would like to spend a little time walking through the village and up into the lower slopes of the Pentlands. The shape of the land is interesting and varied, giving good views of the city and we can have a look at how the shape of the land compares with the contour features on a map. The red lines on the map are called contours and indicate lines of equal height. If the lines are closely spaced, the slope is steep, and if they form a small circle, a ring contour, this means a summit or high point. So a ring contour next to steep slope can be an excellent viewpoint.
It would be good to come back down to the bridge over the bypass before it gets completely dark to see the moving river of light created by the headlights and tail-lights of the traffic, with the dying light of the sun in the west, and outline of the Pentland hills...Tripods would be good - I'll bring a couple of spares.
See you tomorrow - wrap up warm!
Contour features on a map can help us see the shape of the land before we get there.

Let there be light

Let there be light from Kamil Tamiola on Vimeo.

An interesting and informative video from Kamil Tamiola, an 'adventure photographer' who photographs in the Alps at night. It is full of useful planning tips and explanations of method, admittedly in an extreme environment, but these are fundamental principles of photography.
I particularly enjoyed the small lecture on the inverse square law of illumination, a fundamental law of physics, delivered at sub-zero temperatures, a gale and altitude.
And that's the trick - keeping cool, methodical, in control and creative in difficult environmental conditions.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

A quick link often has interesting stories on all aspects of photography. Here, several American photographers of landscapes discuss what motivated them to produce these particular images...

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Friday Nov2

The Met Office pressure chart shows an occluded front passing over us. It might give us a bit of rain, clearing as the front moves away. So from a photographer's point of view, the light may be a little soft, not very bright and colourful, but with some cloud texture and detail. There may be brighter periods too. 
In this type of light, I would consider working in black-and-white to emhasise tonality - the shades of black, white, grey - even silver. I would also concentrate on the composition and design of the pictures. If you have strong design, and a sensitivity to tone, it is often possible to create strong photographs even in poor light. 
Poor light, but geometric composition and paying attention to the
 pleasures of tonality made an interesting picture possible.
The location will be Arthur's Seat - the mountain in the city. We can meet at Stills, then wander down the Mile, past the Parliament and access Arthur's Seat by the Radical Road. This will give us options (and views), so we can choose to go onto the Salisbury Crags or the lower route by Hunter's Bog. 
It will probably be cold, wet, maybe a bit windy and rough underfoot. A snack would be handy. Dress warm!
Walkhighlands gives some helpful information about Arthur's Seat, including pictures and maps.
It is a volcano, with dramatic crags falling steeply to the city. A volcano! In a city centre! This is pretty dramatic, and so does lend itself to a visually dramatic photographic treatment. A very popular and persistent approach to landscape photography is to attempt to convey the location at its most intense and most visually compelling form. This is achieved by shooting when the light is oblique and clear, usually dawn or dusk, at a carefully chosen vantage point. Photographic techniques are chosen to enhance and accentuate elements such as cloud detail, perspective effects and scale. 
Photographers working in this style tend to use graduate filters, polarising filters, wide-angle lenses, red filters in black-and-white to darken blue skies, tripods to allow the use of small apertures to exaggerate deep depth-of-field effects, slow shutter speeds to exaggerate the flow of water.
Every technique serves to enhance, accentuate and to convey perfection, and many photographers feel that they are conveying the 'essence' of a location or environment. The photographer is very conscious of the visual effects of space, light, scale, visual contrasts, perspective and viewpoint.
For many, this is the default way to do landscape photography, and there are often well-known locations and viewpoints that you can visit.

Lindsay Robertson's picture at Arthur's Seat is consciously
 influenced by Ansel Adams and is a masterclass of dramatic tonality,
space, perspective and scale. Red filters enhance the cloud and sky.

When we work in this manner, we are following in the footsteps of people like Ansel Adams. Good examples of this are Lindsay Robertson, Craig McMaster, Lee Frost, Charlie Waite, Richard Childs, Joe Cornish, Colin Prior.
It can be a pleasant way to spend your time, to visit a well-known photographic viewpoint and to recreate your own versions of the famous views.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Friday October 26

 Welcome to the Stills Environmental photography course.

Why 'Environmental' photography?
Because, with a camera we can explore our environment, wherever and whatever that may be - city, village, industrial sprawl, mountain, forest, sea...
If I say 'Landscape' photography, there are often a set of habits, pictures and assumptions that automatically spring to mind, and you might want to look beyond the scenery.

What we will be doing on the course depends very much on what you want to get out of it - so do let me know. (I have a few ideas of my own, of course.)
I have found that most people like to spend as much time actually out and about, shooting. I use this blog to introduce ideas and show some styles of photography that will be helpful when we are out shooting; and I also use it to keep you informed of meeting arrangements and locations.
I can also be contacted at
My background is in professional editorial and corporate photography, and I have produced landscape photography of some of the wilder parts of Scotland for the land conservation charity, the John Muir Trust.
You can find a examples of that project at: 


and - I try to update this blog and I plan to develop it as a photographic education site, so it might be worth keeping an eye on...

The basic set of considerations for any day out shooting is this:

  • The location
  • The conditions
  • The idea
  • The inspiration
  • The route
Simple enough, and these can vary in detail and complexity, and we will explore them more fully during the next few weeks.

Met office pressure chart - north airflow often means good light

  • The location is Stills and the Old Town
  • The conditions will be (probably) cool, with clouds clearing, and when they do so we may get clear, undiffused, contrasty light. We have the beginning of a northerly air flow that often gives lovely clear light and varied cloudscapes. I think today it may be modified by a little hazy cloud. Towards the end of the afternoon, that light will be low angled, oblique and useful for revealing texture and form. In autumn, winter and early spring, such light also shoots through wynds like a dramatic spotlight.

Ragnar Axelsson - using frames to good effect
  • The idea may be a simple visual one or something with a bit more conceptual content. The visual idea may flow from the conditions - so today we could explore the visual idea of high contrast light, and explore the extremes of brightness and shade. The idea may also be a larger unifying project idea that links your shooting together to create a coherent project theme.
      As a stimulus, we can consider the idea of frames, borders, edges and boundaries, as these touch upon some fundamental characteristics of photography such as: a frame, obviously; the edge of your frame and where you position it, what you exclude and include; a border between contrasting states such as the Old and New town, between sea and land, woodland and mountain, industry and rural, between the past and the present; a visual 'edge' also known as acutance is a defining quality in image making and in light - see Trent Parke; a boundary might be a constraint and a lot of good photography comes out of imposing a constraint or a limit on yourself - Josef Sudek for example. 
Josef Sudek, the poet of Prague, created a powerful body of work
as a result of being constrained

Rangnar Axelsson making bold use of the frame's edge,
and also the 'acutance' or edge definition of  the tones within the image
Trent Parke "light turns to ordinary into the magical"
  • The inspiration - there's a lot of good photography out there to help us. Sometimes this can make us feel that it has all been done before. Paul Hill has remarked in his book, 'Approaching Photography', that "you haven't done it, and it is important to remember that fact."  Jerome Loreau has an eye for light and contrast in his travel photographs that include Edinburgh.
The route - today I suggest leaving Stills, and make for the Greyfriar's Cemetery. It's been described as both a mecca and a holy grail for photographers and its atmospheric grounds were frequently celebrated by Robert Louis Stevenson, who in turn inspired visiting American pictorialist photographer Alvin Langdon Coburn to follow in his footsteps. Since then, almost anyone who can hold a camera has visited the graveyard at somepoint.  We can walk up Cockburn Street, down into the Cowgate and Grassmarket, then up to Greyfriars entrance, opposite the Museum.
Robert Reihhardt, following in Alvin Langdon Coburn's footsteps

Weir's Close - Alvin Langdon Coburn,
inspired by Romantic stories and writing,
especially Robert Louis Stevenson

Thursday, 5 April 2012

End of the course

We ended this course on a fresh sunny day at S. Queensferry, adding a coast location to our small selection of different environments that we have visited and explored photographically.
Alberto's still working away at those long exposure techniques with some interesting results. I like the use of this technique in the city, as it takes a popular landscape technique and applies it in a different location. If you haven't already found him, you might like Michael Kenna
Jenna's been using the camera almost like a notebook to record her trip. (I think she likes Edinburgh.) Putting pictures on photo sharing sites is good, but I think it's a good idea also to edit down your pictures to a tight selection and then turn them into something physical like a set of prints or a book. Blurb are good for putting your own books together and also have loads of examples of other people's projects for inspiration, including a lot on travel.
I liked the fact that Ali hadn't been to Swanston before, and I like to use photography as an excuse to find and explore places that I haven't been to before. I'd suggest that you stick to one camera for a while and get to know it - it takes a bit of time. When we were at the T Wood near Swanston you noticed how taking a picture based on a sky light-reading completely changed the appearance of the scene. That's one of the really important points of photography - by changing exposure, or lens, aperture or shutter speed, or going to black-and-white, you change the visual effect. These tools are worth playing with to see how they change the picture. In particular, spend time using the zoom lens in your X10 camera. Try shooting the same scene with wide angle settings and also telephoto. It changes the 'space' within the picture.
I would recommend books in the Basics photography series - David Prakel on Composition and also Michael Freeman's books, including The Photographer's Eye.
Malcolm has a few specific technical questions to do with transforming colour into mono, and also how photographers make their aesthetic decisions. Interesting stuff.  I think the Michael Freeman and David Prakel will interest you too. It's as much about developing judgement and tastes as about technical workflow, and looking at, talking about  and doing photography as much as possible is the way to get there. (You never arrive, by the way!) In particular though, you might like to look at Rolf Horn and especially his technique pages where he demonstrates how the print is an interpretation of the film negative. Yes, it's film, but with digital we're doing the same thing really and all of our techniques and tastes come from film, even if we don't realise it!
And of course, you are all welcome to visit my own blog -, which discusses various ways of doing photography.
It's been a pleasure working with you and good luck with the photography.


Tuesday, 27 March 2012

High pressure haze

Met office chart - high pressure
We're in the middle of a high pressure weather system - a 'blocking high'. Stable high pressure is more common on continental land masses, low pressure with its weather fronts and instability comes to us from the Atlantic. Sometimes the high pressure stays still and blocks the weather from the sea, giving us warm temperatures and light wind. The high pressure sits like a cap, holding down any dust, smog or vapour, so it can usually give us quite hazy and indistinct visibility especially later in the day - which is not so good for photography. 
So as we found on Friday, we have to work with the conditions. Hazy visibility can allow us to use longer (telephoto) lenses that actually exaggerate the haze, which gives a sense of distance. Haze is a distance cue - it indicates that something is far away. More haze can suggest greater distance. Long lenses flatten the perspective, which makes foreground and backgrounds - such as mountain horizons - stack up on top of each other and appear to continue forever. The haziness can also give a soft, pastel single colour effect too, leaving you with simple colour shapes to arrange in your picture frame.
Telephoto shot in Glencoe in hazy mid-day light
Often the weather can be claggy, foggy and unpleasant, especially if north sea fog comes in, and this can  give us one of the most spectacular effects - the temperature inversion and its cloud sea. Cold damp air stays low, but on the hill tops it is actually warmer and you can emerge above the clouds. 
It is worth checking the met office, whose mountain forecasters seem to have an interest in photographic weather conditions, to see what's happening during a high, and if an inversion is forecast, get up as high as possible.
Cloud sea in the Cairngorms
A happy state of affairs

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Photographs and reality

One of the conversations that occurred on Friday related to the question of whether Photoshop manipulation of pictures is acceptable or desirable. It's a common debate whenever photographers get together, and has been discussed in one form or another for over 150 years.
Yes, I did say 150 years, because the tension between reality and manipulation has existed since photography was invented.
Fox Talbot, one of the inventors, described photography as the "pencil of nature" and thought of the camera as a machine that created pictures by itself. The photographer was simply the operator.
Very quickly, early adopters of the new technology started to create an art form out of it  and began to adopt habits from its nearest neighbour - painting.
To establish themselves as unique and individual creators of images, they began to manipulate the image - lenses were deliberately softened to reduce their focus; the glass plates were scratched, smudged or painted on to create more painterly, less clearly descriptive pictures. 
Julia Margaret Cameron

The term for this is usually 'Pictorialism', and people like Steiglitz, Steichen and Julia Margaret Cameron are good examples. It was often romantic, and drew inspiration from paintings, myths and legends.

The Great War changed all that.
Steiglitz in particular helped developed photography beyond Pictorialism. As an aerial reconnaisance photographer he became aware of the impressive possibilities of good lenses to accurately describe reality and developed an idea that this quality was a legitimate form of artistic creativity.
In short, the idea of exploring the unique visual possibilities of purely photographic technique was an art in itself, without needing to mimic painting or to draw from myth. Modern reality, everyday subjects and a new technology was sufficient. This was a part of the art and cultural movement, Modernism, and was revolutionary - literally. It became part of the Russian revolutionary style - a new technology and way of seeing for a new political reality.
In America, a loose group of photographers including Imogen Cunningham, Edward Weston, Ansel Adams (I think) gathered together to produce pictures that were as sharp and clear as could be, with minimal or no painterly manipulation. They called themselves the F64 group, after the smallest aperture - and greatest depth of field - available.
Ansel Adams in particular developed the technique of extracting the maximum amount of tonal range from a scene and reproducing it in beautifully crafted prints - it is called the zone system. He wanted to record maximum detail and clarity, and also interpret the scene visually. This technique created pictures that were both closely related to the actual scene, but also a subtle enhancement of the visual drama of the scene.

But adding colours or taking elements from one picture into another wasn't part of the purely photographic way of seeing, with its very close relationship to the real scene. Adams was capable of creating composite pictures, but did not. 
And that, basically, is the same conversation that is taking place today, but with computer technology and its limitless possibilities. We are able to manufacture pictures from many different sources, we can change colours and enhance and improve and exaggerate at will. 
It is a choice, a decision, and in some respects, it is an ethos.
We can tap into the tradition of romantic pictorialism by creating digital artworks which are nothing like the original scene. Or we can use the intrinsic qualities of the camera - light, lenses, shutter speed, aperture, point of view to make visually appealing or challenging photographs that have a connection to the reality. When we do this, we are tapping in to the Modernist tradition.
And then there's post-modernism - but that's a whole other story.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Glen Nevis map

Looking at the statistics for this blog, I notice that an online pharmacy in India, offering enhancing products, seem to be keen readers. 
So our Indian readers might like to see a map of Glen Nevis that I've prepared for my other blog and for the organisation Discovering Places.
The map shows some interesting locations in and around the Glen, with some pop-up pictures and comments. I'll do one of Skye soon, for Jenna's trip. 
To get the full experience (I'm talking about the map, not Indian pharmaceutical products) you might need to register with the Ordnance Survey. It's free. If it isn't working, try different web browsers.
The full link is: 

Monday, 19 March 2012

Smashing apps

Many interesting things here:

I know I will never, ever get round to looking through these, so you have to do it and then tell me what is worth looking at. Call it homework.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Everyday things

Irving Penn - Cigarette butts
So Jenna was mentioning that she likes to photograph unusual details, and seems to have her eyes on the ground as much as on the sky and the distant views. And why not? In doing so she's walking in good company, and Irving Penn springs to mind. He was a fine portrait photographer and did a lot of high (very high) fashion for Vogue.
He also produced a lot of anthropological pictures, and I think it's fair to say that he was transfixed the surfaces of things, and the way that a photograph can make beautiful even the most forgotten and mundane cast away items. Cigarette butts, for example, when looked at with great cate and attention, and photographed with craft, may become something beautiful.
More here:

In a similar vein, Malcolm was looking at the Leith skyline from Arthur's Seat and struggling to see the photographic possibilities in it, compared to the views of the Old Town for example.
I didn't have much sensible to say at the time, but I have since been reminded of John Davies. He photographed some very mundane city landscapes, as well as rural ones. This is what he says he does: " I am not so much interested in entertaining an audience or providing vehicles for escape but in delivering a highly crafted detailed image conveying a sense of reality. A reality that shares a recognition of aspects of urban living. But importantly, making images of a landscape that attempts to question our acceptance and perception of the inevitable consequences of living in a post imperialist society and a post industrial landscape". 
He makes pictures of often quite everyday scenes that we are familiar with and that we might not consider a suitable subject for a camera, and he applies a very careful crafted photographic technique. He uses a large format camera and black and white printing to create pictures with incredible detail and visual interest, that make you look and look again at the everyday scenes around you. The pictures don't make a lot of sense on screen, they are prints or books - physical things. Have a look in the fine art section of Central Library for some of his books.
He makes huge landscape pictures of small British places, and the fascination is in the busy detail. He has some of the neutral, documentary style of the photographic movement known as New Topographics, which aimed to reduce the role of the photographer as author; but he also draws something of the grand drama of people like Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, and their very American taste for grand open vistas.
Bur Davies is British, and his pictures are about Britain.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Couple of pics

Malcolm's skyline
Malcolm's Princes St after rain
A couple of photographs from Malcolm showing the effect of taking light readings from the bright part of the scene - the sky. The top one is a classic Edinburgh skyline silhouette, but the aeroplane trail lifts it out of the ordinary.  The Princes Street scene after the rain is interesting, because instead of a straightforward silhouette, Malcolm has also included some bright detail of the sky colours reflected in the puddle, breaking up the shadow with a splash of light. A travel photojournalist would perhaps have waited for a figure to cross that patch of light, ideally jumping, with a brolly.
And Alberto's been blurring people with long exposures against golden lit archways. Makes me think of early Josef Koudelka. Lovely.
These pictures do what photography can often do, which is to make the ordinary magical again. (I'm quoting someone, but can't remember who.)
Alberto's ghostly people

Early Josef Koudelka -