30 August 2014


I much prefer the word oblong to rectangle, it sounds more descriptive and less technical. 

I'm always pleased when something emerges through my photography that has been bouncing around in my head and these two pictures from a trip to Llandudno yesterday are a case in point. I've been thinking about height and width, shape, composition, framing, in short the canvas size that we all have to consider when making pictures.  I imagine that most photographers happily stick to the shape of the picture forced on them by the maker of their camera, this usually being based on the proportions of the sensor and reflected by the shape of the viewfinder or screen. Although it's possible to change this in the menu or to crop the image later on in post-production, I wonder how many people do this on a regular basis. 

One of the reasons I struggled with digital photography for some time was the shape of the final picture. Most contemporary cameras adopt the proportions of a 35mm film frame - 3:2, which I've never loved. I've always preferred the proportions of 5x4 from large format or 6x7 from medium format, so struggled to embrace the shape provided to frame the world. This is no minor detail, it seems to be such a fundamentally important aspect that I'm surprised camera manufacturers don't make different shaped sensors in the way there were always many film formats. I think a square sensor camera would be really popular. 

I'm not a fan of talking too much about camera equipment on my blog as I want the emphasis to be on ideas and creativity, but it is important for me to have a camera that I love and enjoy using. I discovered Olympus and the FourThirds sensor a few years ago and this helped me embrace digital picture making.  I don't crop my pictures so this format provides me with 4:3 proportions that feel very comfortable and the viewfinder reflects this shape. My perfect oblong.

10 August 2014

Pink Wall, Green Wall

A hidden disused space in the centre of Antwerp, with a pink room and a green room next to one another.

One of the things I enjoy about Antwerp is that history is everywhere as you stroll or cycle through the streets. Generally contemporary developments are of a high standard and often pretty experimental, creating an interesting dynamic when buffered up against building that may have stood for hundreds of years. 

Although Manchester is a much more exciting city than when I moved here, I get frustrated that the powers that be seem content to allow developers to rip down interesting older buildings and replace them with cheap generic blocks. We could learn a lot from the Belgians. 

There are two such buildings under threat at the moment. The first Century House is a 1930's building that looks perfectly proportioned in the streetscape with a unique relief of George Fox the founder of the Quakers on it's frontage. The other is The Cornerhouse on Oxford Street which for many decades has been an arts centre with a cinema, galleries and a great cafe. The building is late Victorian and sits quite grandly at the juncture of two major city centre roads. It is a landmark and a friendly piece of architecture that earns it's place in Manchester, and in my opinion deserves to stay.

I'm glad to say other people feel the same and so there are now campaigns to save both buildings, take a look if you'd like to contribute: