Crowds lined the streets and our armed forces took to their duties. The amassed became silent. The only sound, somber music that perforated to my very core.
Unseen, the gun carriage and horses could be heard, a gentle rattle on the street.
A spring tide of emotion came to me, carried on the gentle ripple of applause.
When I was a young man she was known as Maggie. Now she is Baroness Thatcher and I witness her final statement as the coffin, draped with our union flag, passes by taking her to her final resting place.
It matters not what my, or anyone else’s, political views are, what I saw yesterday could be summed up in one sentence…
Yesterday the UK showed respect.
I can’t say that I remember eating too much laverbread for the first 18 years of my life, and yet there it was, on my door step so to speak… I am after all a Swansea boy, born and bred.
The minute I moved away it was all I craved. Well that’s not exactly true, Joes icecream was way up on the list, together with Swansea pies, welsh cakes, those little pasties from the market, salt marsh lamb and anything that comes out of Davis of Mumbles bakery. I have to admit though, I’m still not that keen on cockles.
Luckily for me I come home on a regular basis and stock up and when family come to me to visit they are all supplied with what I like to call the Swansea shopping list.
When you consider that I have lived in Leicestershire, Essex, London, the Cotswolds, Bristol, Venezuela, Martinique, St Lucia and Germany it is fair to say that Swansea has always been there with me.
Earlier this month my father (84) had a minor stroke (luckily he’s on the mend now) so I decided to move back to Swansea for a few months to make sure that he is well on the way to full recovery. This has allowed me to rediscover the Gower Peninsular (Penrhyn Gwyr) by going for a long walk each day. Over the last 30 odd years (since moving away), on each trip home I would always visit a beach or two to get my “gower fix” but they always tended to be the bays that were easy to get to such as Caswell, Langland, or Oxwich etc because they also have easy parking. I always seemed to be promising myself that I would take a longer break here and walk some of the more remote areas. Somehow life always seemed to get in the way.
OK, I wasn’t expecting my father to have a stroke to facilitate my desire to spend more time here, but now that its happened and he is getting better, I’m finally enjoying the delights that are on offer. Not just visiting Rhossili for a quick view of worms head and a coffee, but getting down onto the beach (it’s a lot easier going down than coming back up) to explore the rock formations as I did as a child. Not just passing the sign for Pwlldu but parking up and taking the time to walk there and onto Brandy cove. It’s not far when you put your mind to it. Finding out how many vantage points there are to see the Three Cliffs. Either walking down the valley from Parkmill or walking along the cliff tops from Southgate. Travelling to Port Eynon at the right time of day (tide going out) so that I can walk to Culver Hole at Overton Mere.
What has really blown my mind, thanks to the Wales costal path, is the sheer unadulterated beauty of the Gower. No wonder it was the first place in the UK to be named “area of outstanding natural beauty”. It may seem a strange thing to say given that the Gower has been part of my life since birth, I don’t think there is a bay that my parents haven’t taken me to on a regular basis as a child, or that I haven’t explored as a teenager but sometimes, when you live in a place, you end up taking it for granted. The joy of coming back here is that I can look at it with a fresh pair of eyes. It’s like being given a second chance to just step back and appreciated how lucky we are. In truth the Gower is probably looking back at me and thinking that I’m a bit heavier around the middle and my hair has gone grey. It’s not wrong, but as with all good friends, we are just picking up where we left off.
All cinematography and photography relies on light, but it is without doubt the way that the light is translated onto film by the artist (photographer) that sets it apart. My “Best lighting award for cinematography” would undoubtedly go straight to the film Rebecca ( Daphne Du Maurier), filmed in 1940 by Alfred Hitchcock. So 73 years later and it still stands out.
Photography wise I have always admired the early Hollywood glamour publicity shots of their stars. Always very Rembrandt (lighting) in style, slightly soft focus and without doubt… chic.
But there is one genre in particular that has always intrigued me – Noir.
We all remember from our school French that it means black, but it can also mean darkness, blackness, gloom and murk.
If you put Noir into Google it immediately comes up with the cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish, stylised even, Hollywood crime dramas. Those of us at a certain age will remember them well. The fog, smog or mist, the street light, the silhouetted figures, the man in a homburg hat smoking a cigarette. Wikipedia informs us that the film noir period extended from the early 40′s to the late 50′s and is associated with a low key black and white.
Given that it is a crime drama, could Rebecca be classed as film noir?
But it certainly cant be as simple as just a black and white shot. This self portrait (I know there is slight colour in it) certainly makes me look like I’ve committed a crime, but where is the mist, the hat, the cigarette?
I then started to think about lighting fashions and does the genre stand up if we introduce slight colour to the mix? There is intrigue and interesting lighting (funnily enough these were done as part of a valentines gift and not associated with a crime drama)
What if we add colour but also some grain?, a hint of a mist arriving this side of before dawn and the proverbial street lighting?
I hazard a guess in that it has to be translated anew. Yes we could replicate what they did in the 40′s and 50′s but is that pushing the boundaries Surely we can admire, very much, what they did and yet look at it with fresh eyes. So watch this space, one of my personal projects this year will be to take film noir and put my slant on it…
Not being much of a blogger, or exactly at one with the internet I was fascinated to find out how many countries my blog had been read in. I have only just started to look at the stats and whilst I’m not sure what bearing they have on my photography business it is nice to know that it’s not just my friends and family that has the occasional look. And yes, I was sad enough to count all 70 odd.
Its coming up to that time of year again, where I jostle for my very own 1 sq foot of floor space and pay a kings ransom for a cup of coffee and a curled up sandwich. The strange thing is… I cant wait.
I talk, of course, about the Focus on Imaging exhibition held at the NEC from the 3rd to the 6th of March 2013.
So why do I get so excited about an expo. Surely its the same thing every year?
Well yes, but also very definitely no.
Just look at the title of the post (I’m sure girls are just as bad but as I’m a boy etc etc). What better place to see, under one roof, all the new cameras that I cant afford, or all of the gizmos that I don’t need but will buy anyway because at the time I will wonder how on earth I have survived 40 years of being a photographer without one. My mind will boggle how someone can put a dimmer switch on an LED and add a couple of zeros to the price. I will look at all of the really good ideas to hit the market and kick myself for not thinking about it first…. The list is endless.
There is also the opportunity to spend the day with like minded people. Yes we are all a few sandwiches short of a decent picnic… but at least we all speak the same language and sing from the same hymn sheet (if not in tune, at least with conviction) . Amateurs will learn from pro’s, pro’s will learn from amateurs, we will all nod knowingly at each other even though we were lost half an hour ago… Its bloody great.
And then we have the journey home. Normally after a long day this can be rather tiresome…. Ah but there’s a treat in store… This is where I come up with new and exciting ideas to explain why the rainy day money will now just about cover an extremely short shower.
So, see you there…
With the end of February now in sight our diary, especially Saturday wedding dates for the summer, is filling up fast.
Because of our success this year we have decided to keep the prices the same for 2014 until September as an incentive to book early for weddings and portraits next year. Our commercial photography rates will still remain on a bespoke quote basis.
To remind clients about our area of operation.
Commercial photography remains unchanged. We are based in West London but cover nationwide and internationally.
Wedding Photography and Portrait Photography. Because we have accommodation in Swansea (including Gower), the Cotswolds, Bristol and Twickenham we can cover from London to LLanelli and The Cotswolds to Barnstaple at no extra cost to our clients.
Our London base allows us easy access to Hounslow, Twickenham, Richmond upon Thames, Kingston upon Thames, Putney, Wandsworth, Wimbledon, Stains, Sunbury, Weybridge, Esher, Epsom, Sutton, Barnes, Kew, Sunningdale, Wentworth, Virginia Water, Walton on Thames, Camberley, Guildford, Ascot, Windsor, and all central London postcodes.
Our Bristol base allows us to easily cover Weston Super Mare, Bridgewater, Taunton, Bath, Exeter, Barnstaple, Thornbury, Chipping Sodbury, Swindon, Newbury, Hungerford
Our Swansea location is ideal foe th Gower, Llanelli, Cardiff, Newport, South Wales and West Wales
From our base In Broadway we can cover wedding and portrait photography throughout the Cotswolds region
Obviously we cant name every town in these regions but the counties covered at no extra charge are Central London, West London, Middlesex, Surrey, Berkshire, Oxfordsire, Wiltshire, Avon, Somerset, Devon, Gloucestershire, Glamorgan, West Glamorgan, South Wales and West Wales. The rest of the UK may incur a small charge for fuel and overnight accommodation depending on timings and location.
I know that Christmas hasn’t even started yet, and we are looking forward to sore heads on the 1st of January but I’d like to put this out there.
There is going to be a photographers meet up in London in January so that we can all get our creative juices flowing. Lots of coffee drinking and chin wagging with the odd well crafted image thrown in too. Pro or hobbyist, it doesn’t matter, as long as you are into taking photographs – you’ll be welcome. All you need is the ability to get yourself to central London, have a few pennies (it’s London, so it will be many pounds) for a beverage and not forgetting… a camera.
There isn’t a fixed date or agenda yet but if you want to be kept informed, just reply to this and I’ll get an email circular going.
In the meantime, have a fab Christmas etc… Do eat and drink too much and certainly be merry.
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