One of the very best things I have done in recent years is to organise an exhibition of some of my photography and artwork. I wrote about it on this blog several times. Here, for example. I was asked (mostly by those who missed it!) if I was going to do another one. My reaction has been that these things can’t be rushed. After all, it took me most of 60 years to put the first one together.
However, things are now shaping up for a new show, in November 2016. Patience is the order of the day, because that’s a almost year away still as I write this. There is lots to do, but I’m rather hoping that taking the photos for the new show isn’t one of those tasks. Read on and that will be explained.
The new exhibition is going to be about my wanderings along the banks of the River Medway, in Kent. My regular walks start barely five minutes from home, and have become something I now do quite often, both as relaxation, and for the sheer enjoyment of the familiar places through which I walk. There was a spell when I felt I was becoming a bit “stale” with my photography of the area, so I left a camera at home a few times. However, I always had my iPhone with me, and before very long, I’d used this to take some multi-frame panoramic views etc which had come out really quite well. This rather altered my view of camera-phones. I’d always been one of those “proper camera” snobs. I’ve changed now, and on several occasions recently, for example, I’ve gone out armed only with the ‘phone (a standard iPhone 6), because I’ve had confidence in its ability to capture what I want. It may only have a tiny sensor and lens, and just 8 megapixels, but the ‘phone’s ability to extract detail from cloudy skies, or to achieve a shot into the sun which my “proper cameras” baulk at is second to nothing I’ve ever used. Having something you can slip into a pocket, and which is capable of doing a dozen other tasks is a boon, too, of course.
Being able to get half-decent shots in marginal weather, and so on, soon meant that my collection of photos from my Medway walks began to grow considerably. My dilemma, when faced with thoughts about an exhibition, was that I needed to extract from the collection something around 30 photos that would print and display well. It was a dilemma, because my first attempt at a “shortlist” came to 103 photos! This was only gradually whittled down to around 70 by my own efforts. Glad to say, my artist friend and printing guru Chris Clark (also co-owner of the gallery that will host the show) gave the photos her critical but kindly oversight, and now we have a working batch of a sensible size.
There is a downside to this, however. With eleven months still to go, I’m not going to stop walking the banks of the Medway, and, in whatever form, I’ll have a camera with me. It’s inevitable that some of the existing selection will give way to a few new shots, I guess. I just need to be careful!
On my walks, I’ve inevitably and often shot the same scenes several times over. The weather has a huge influence on what I see, because there are some big expanses of sky over parts of where I go. Elsewhere, mature trees along the River change hugely from season to season. Sadly also, ash die-back disease has led to some old trees being thinned out. More recently, work to underpin the embankment of the adjacent Medway Valley railway line has involved some quite brutal felling of characterful willows in one place.
Finally, because this is going to be part one of a two-part blog, a word about the photo that it starts with. I shot this on a November afternoon. It’s a single iPhone 6 frame. I’d stopped at a spot I’ve shot from time without number. The light was mellow, and there were still enough leaves on the trees to give colour. When I opened the shot up on a big screen at home, I found myself looking at the most, shall we say, “Constable-esque” photo I’ve ever taken. I’d certainly not set out to shoot an image that had those attributes, but there seems to be general agreement amongst those who have seen the shot that this one does. I don’t use Photoshop or any of those sophisticated editing packages, so let’s put it down to fluke and coincidence. However, I want to return to that in part two of this blog.