The last 24 hours have been so enjoyable. I attended the Blog North Awards last night with no thought of winning, but hey guess what, I won! It has surprised me how much it has put a spring in my step to receive this metaphorical pat on the back, especially as the quality of the shortlisted blogs was so high. I was lucky enough to share the stage with the talented Emmeline Pidgen as there were two winners in our category - Best Arts & Culture Blog.
It was actually a really good evening, with readings from some of the shortlisted bloggers, and a newly commissioned piece for the Manchester Literature Festival, of which this is all a part. During the evening I started to think about the strange, touching nature of the event as most bloggers work away on their own at home, pouring their hearts into a computer keyboard never expecting any response to their musing. One of the bloggers doing a reading last night General Lucifer described the act of blogging as "shouting into a black hole" which really struck a chord with me.
To top it off I've been spoilt at work today, with flowers, a card and a posh lunch, plus lots of people expressing genuine happiness for me.
A huge thanks to all the people out there who voted for me, it feels less like a black hole now, and please keep on visiting.
My life as a grower and my photography practice seem to be converging, happily. I spent the morning attempting to tame the wilder elements of my allotment. The brambles creeping through from the wasteland next door are now so big that they tower over me by several feet. I've been waiting to pick the last of the blackberries before hacking them back.
It was a beautiful autumn day with strong, low sun that helped draw attention to the incredible colour palette all around me, very different even to a few weeks ago. So along with my harvest of apples, tomatoes, raspberries and the last of the wild blackberries I snipped a few of the leaves and blooms of the non edibles. The afternoon was then spent experimenting with these on the floor of my box room, lit by the same light that had illuminated my morning work.
Fingers crossed for this coming Wednesday as it's the Blog North Awards, where this very blog is shortlisted in the Arts & Culture category. If you fancy joining me at the event it's taking place at The Deaf Institute in Manchester from 7.30pm. I'm hoping they have some green-fingered judges...
It's unsettling to think that everything is temporary so I prefer to believe that life is cyclical. These flowers were a gift and looked stunning for a week or so before they started to wilt. Now they are off to the compost heap for a year, maybe two after which time their remains will feed another plant, which will look stunning for a week or so...
Anyway I'm back working in the daylight studio or box room as it's more commonly known, scrabbling around on the floor thinking about colour. There are some earlier blog posts with my other experiments made in this way if you'd care to look:
One of the perks of being a photography lecturer is that I get to go out making pictures with the students. Today was the annual typology shoot, tapping into the collector in each of us, deciding on a subject and then hunting it down in urban Manchester. After a few false starts I decided to go for these skinny yellow legs that are all over town. I like that scaffolding at ground level has to be 'dressed' these days in a dapper outfit to avoid confused passers by marching straight into it. It does add a graphic edge to the streetscape. It also looks like the recession might be over as there is a huge amount of building and refurbishment going on in this neck of the woods. Just a little reminder that there is less than a week left if you'd like to vote for this blog in the Blog North Awards - I'm really chuffed to be shortlisted and overwhelmed by all the positive messages and support, many thanks!
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.
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: