19 September 2014


I saw this scene down the corridor this morning as I rushed to get ready for work and thought - yes that's exactly how I feel, squeezed.

It's been a hectic week but the highlight was discovering this very blog has been shortlisted for a Blog North Award! I'm in the Arts & Culture category, if you fancy voting for me I'd be honoured.

05 September 2014

Welsh Sea Monsters

I keep seeing monsters...

These three were spotted emerging from the sea at Llandudno having just clambered over the fence designed to keep them out.

If you missed my previous encounter you can find it here: 

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.

17 August 2014

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:

07 August 2014

Flora & Fauna

 We think we can control flora and fauna, but nature will always win.

06 August 2014

Belgian Flower Monsters

Over the water from Antwerp is Linkeroever, the left bank. It is the city's frumpy, less stylish sister left looking longingly back across the river Scheldt at her hip, urban sibling. It has a unique atmosphere, due to it's wide open suburban street plan and relative lack of people. I always feel like I'm in a sci-fi film, maybe a zombie movie. So I was particularly excited to discover a new addition this summer - the Belgian Flower Monsters. These bizarre beasts aren't designed to frighten, they are meant to beautify the concrete and tarmac expanse, however to me they look like leftovers from a 1970's episode of Dr. Who. 

05 August 2014

Golden Scissors

My dad has a theory that we are often fascinated by the era that came just before we were born. Maybe this is because you hear older family members reminiscing about this time with affection as you grow up and it takes on a magical aura. The 1950's and 60's have this allure for me. I love the aesthetic of this period, which seems to encapsulate a sense of optimism and innocence missing from some of the modern world. 

I was a little over excited to say the least to stumble across aux Ciseaux d'Or in Brussels last week. I was with my friend Heleen and drawn in by the elegant typeface of the signage we crossed the road to inspect the window display, which turned out to be eccentric and stylish, furnished with curious vintage mannequins. Frustratingly the shop was shut but luckily returning to the car later in the day we could spy people inside. My multilingual friend used her charms to get us over the threshold where we found a perfectly preserved and functioning clothes shop. The shopkeeper was bemused by our interest and unflattered by our excitement but let me take some photographs anyway. She explained that her parents had run the shop since the 1920's and she had taken over in the 1950's. The mannequins were early 1960's. After a few minutes she lost her patience and announced she was locking up, so it was a brief glimpse but long enough to document it as it stood that day. 

For those old enough to remember, a rather Mr. Benn experience.