Monday, 20 February 2012

Sky Saw

Here's a short sequence of my pictures I've put together with a piece of
music I composed in GarageBand on the Mac. All the shots are in the Scottish
Borders. Hopefully I'll be adding more of this type of video post to this blog if
I can sit down and compose some more music - which is quite difficult given that
I've got absolutely no formal training in reading or writing music.
The music is inspired by the musical genius that is Brian Eno - hope you enjoy it
and if you do please leave a comment as this will encourage me to do more...
thanks :).

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Getting back into the outdoors

Over the last year I've rekindled my love of the wild, remote outdoors. I used to do that kinda thing a lot before the burdens of life started to weigh heavy on my shoulders and work and bills and mortgage payments took me away from the wilderness.
Luckily, thanks to my current circumstances I can and have spent some nights and days out in the familiar, unexplored landscape that passes us by in the hectic blurr of our day to day existence. I'm lucky in that I can be up on the moors and blue remembered hills, away from electricity, minor stress and traffic within an hour of putting one foot in front of the other and launching myself off the doorstep. I pack everything I need into a big rucksack - tent, sleeping bag, warmth, cooking stuff, food, even a few cold beers and just escape to the places that promise good sights that I might capture with my camera. If I'm lucky the atmosphere treats me to a clear, starry night where I can be a child again and lie, amazed and wondering about my significance and insignificance in the same moment. Above all, those treasured slices of time in that high void make me comfortably happy, sometimes blissfully so and I relive memories of times past, characters met and friends long gone. I have time to contemplate my place in life  and to value who I am luckily enough to share it with. As the dark closes in and I retreat into a microcosm of warm gaslamp light I hear Owls and creatures that shriek, sometimes too close for comfort  that might be attacked, attacking or just out to scare the giant in the glowing orange dome. In my worst fears I hear potential axe killers and maybe worse, having had some genuinely terrifying experiences while camping in my youth any strange noise can bring back my old friend Terry Fied...  but that's a different story.
Ultimately I'm not scared because I eventually let sleep take over, ushered in by a good book on UFOs, ghosts or strange beasties as more rational thoughts ease me into the gap we all fall into between one days end and the next days start....

Monsters and known beasts

I've been interested in monsters n stuff since I was about nine or ten. When I was older I found out the 'n stuff' was, along with the monsters, called the Paranormal. This must have been about the time I was given a copy of Chariots of the Gods by Eric Von Daniken by my uncle Jeffrey who was home on leave from the Army. Boy did that book open my eyes and mind.
Away went the Famous Five books and in came everything I could lay my hands and eyes on that was concerned with monsters, ghosts, ufo's and space. I went from Peter Parker to Spider-Man via the local library. When I earned money I bought books, read them voraciously and re-read them - this was the early 1970's and the internet was a distant dream in the mind of some geeks, Forums were something that Romans used to go to and 'Greys' were still only shades between black and white.
Dinsdale, Vallee, Hynek, Le Poer Trench, Underwood, Keyhoe, Keel - I consumed, lived and breathed them. Unsurprisingly, my schoolwork improved. I became more articulate, my grammar and writing ability improved and I had knowledge that the other kids didn't. The skies above Manchester also got my attention on a regular basis, especially on those rare nights when they were free of cloud, cigarette smoke and light pollution. I saw many UFO's, especially towards Manchester Airport and it's main approach above the Pennine Moors. I think I saw ghosts too but sadly no Lake Monsters on account that we only had lodges, ponds, canals and the river Irwell where I grew up (and nothing back then could survive in the river Irwell for more than an hour and if it did live to tell the tale it had either lost one or grown one such was the level of toxic pollution). The biggest creatures that lived in those small, shallow bodies of water were big Pike, long pale rubbery snakes we called Johnnies and Fecus Porcelainus Expellorum or the common house turd.
I think I must've seen a lot of things I would have classed as unexplained or weird but human perception is subject to many flaws and our memory is a constructive process that is shaky at best and unreliable most of the time.
All this reading and fascination carried on for years until Punk exploded onto the streets of my town in the mid 70's and it was married to Woodpecker Cider. However, although my appetite for all things paranormal dropped I still snacked on Fortean Times, the books of Tim Good, Jenny Randles and BBC2. 
Inevitably Punk ran it's course and I graduated to the likes of Kraftwerk, Bowie, Eno and the emerging synth movement of the late seventies and early 80's. I also became more serious in my skywatching and ghost hunting - investigating local 'haunted' locations and houses armed with cameras and tape recorders as well as spending nights out on the Lancashire Moors armed with hot soup, beef paste butties and telescope. I usually came back from those trips with nothing but lights that were probably planes, fast moving lights that were meteors and satellite sightings but sometimes, if I was really unlucky I'd manage to catch a cold.

They were happy times, times of wonder, discovery and learning but more than anything they were my times and I wouldn't be the person I am now without having lived through them.

Memories of green

Just got back from a few days in the Lake District of that north of England. Myself and Snorkey were scouting out the locations we'd identified for our 2012 Photography Workshop around the village of Coniston.
And despite the expected inclement bursts of weather, between us, bagged some excellent landscape shots and pretty much satisfied ourselves that this location would do our clients proud. You can look at my shots here:
and I'll be featuring one or two on our f22 website when we get it revamped (vey furry soon). The area was just as I'd remembered it when I spent my youth Backpacking around the Lakes way back in the late 70's to mid eighties - but with more tourists I think. Then again memory is not a reliable source of accurate information but Tarn Hows back then was a quiet little backwater with very few people even in high Summer season.
No unusual experiences were experienced during our two nights camp at Coniston apart from some gusty winds that were quite odd in the fact that you could hear the gusts coming. I put that down to some topographical anomaly. I'd never been to Coniston itself before but I found it to be a unfussy, working village with the Black Bull as the standout watering hole of choice with its low black beams, ancient fireplaces and warm welcoming staff, not to mention the fine selection of local ales that would make any Aleman de la beard proud and drably. Not the kind of Pub you'd find Bjork sipping obscure Vodka in. And finally, this blog is not just going to focus on Photography, although that will be a central theme, but it will cover the world of Snipps Whispers - and just to back that up the next post will be very different….Dooods.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Why do photos look better than real life?

Our memories can never truly recreate the moment our eyes send images to our brain. We can't accurately remember colours, smells, cold/heat and all the other sensory inputs that create our experiences that ultimately become our memories. So we rely on our pictures. However our pictures in themselves are pale imitations of what we actually saw unless we have the ability to tweak them closer to the reality that our eyes captured.
Great pictures are to a certain extent accurate pictures in that they've been manipulated to match what our eyes really saw but what our brains do not have the ability to recreate. I admit that I manipulate 99% of my published work, as do all professional photographers - IMO there's nothing wrong with that since we're merely trying to replicate the true image in terms of colours, saturation, detail and vibrance that we saw.