Thursday, 6 September 2012

Wet Plate Photography!!!

For the last few years I've been wanting to try my hand at wet plate, but its not really like other forms of photography, you can't really just decide to do it and pull it off. My wife went on John Brewers 2 day course in early summer, so I had someone around who new the basics.

We finally got ourselves set up and went to get the chemicals from John last Friday, such a nice bloke, seriously this guy couldn't do enough to help! It turn out there was a spare place on his course the next day, he offered it to me and I near took his arm off!!!

As John says, wet plate is more alchemy than science, times vary significantly and there can be 100 things go wrong at each stage... BUT its such a fantastic form of image making that all that is worth it!

Here's some of the images I produced over the weekend:

The above is a half plate tintype shot on trophy aluminium, I can't remember specifics but what interested me about this one is that it looked solarised so I buffed it up. The process is called silvering and it gives an almost daguerreotype feel...

This is an ambrotype shot on glass, the metal stand is a head rest to help keep clarity in the image due to the sometimes long exposures.... its also why the Victorians didn't smile on photo's, could you hold a smile for 10-20s???

Another ambrotype, but John has so many cool macabre and uncanny props that I couldn't resist this... never liked freaky dolls!!!

This one is one of my favourites, its shot on perspects. it gives a cool look like tintypes but I ound this perhaps the most difficult material to work with.

Okay so there's a lot wrong with this one, but aesthetically I love it! Its a tintype whole plate, apparently the silver bath was too warm which resulted in the complete lack of contrast.

Also, I have a problem with my had so basically do this whole thing one handed. Some people might be put off doing this with this kind of problem, but John just whipped up a nifty device which helps me with the developing!

Again I can't say strongly enough how cool the course was. If your interested check out Johns website!

Monday, 27 August 2012

Keep on Rolling...

So last week I did the next shoot and went back into the studio with the aim of creating something similar to the digital shots from the previous post but with my 5x4 camera. Unfortunately I ran out of Ilford delta 100, but decided to shoot anyway with FP4... I think that in future for this project Delta is the way to go, so will order some in a bit.

I only shot 7 images and out of them only decided to edit one. There were two images/poses I was focusing on, the first just didn't work, the second worked but lacks the impact of the original images. The aim was to explore 1/2 length body shots, to mix it up a bit and see what I came up with.

Here are the images:

So here's the first edit... okay, on my laptop this looks very dark, but was edited on a calibrated monitor so should print the way it looks on the big Mac... ha ha

From a positive point of view: I like the lighting and general feel of the image, toning down the textures seems to work well (working on a 50/50 split from my last post). The sharpening worked well, but I was wondering whether to go with an ultra realistic really sharpened look or with the look I went with which is target specific. I'm also getting to grips with this digital colouring of the original B&W images...

On a negative: The pose and over all feel isn't as classic or dramatic as the original images which inspired me to take this project forward. Maybe need to move the camera around a bit more... I think perhaps I should try again but shooting down from a higher vantage point, this might add to the insecurity and feel of the image???

Here's the same image but lightened so that it looks correct on my laptop:

Sooooooooo there's lots to be thinking about, shooting angles, poses and even looking at landscape as opposed to portrait, maybe even 3/4 length shots....

I'll let you know how I get on.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Time For Personal Work

Well, seems like ages since I last posted on my blog... but I've not been idle during this time. From April to the end of July I had been working on a number of commission for permanent instillations. Whilst I enjoyed them, the work that was produced doesn't fit with what I normally produce in my own practice so hasn't appeared on here. Also during this time I've got a a studio, its a big step and has taken a bit of time to get ready but I'm not at the point to carry on my work.

I've decided to carry on with my initial experimentations of the work thats come to be called Emanations. I think there's something to the project worth persevering with, I love the idea of exploring what it is to be a young adult... the trials and tribulations, the self doubt and exploration... I suppose its the idea of finding the 'Self' that will be. I think as a father it interests me greatly watching my teenage children develop, try on new character traits and shed them just as quickly. But not just that, I enjoy the instances when for brief moments you see the adult they could potentially become...

I think also another element for me is that a portrait is so much more. If done correctly it captures and essence of the individual, I don't pretend to understand what that is and it will probably form a huge part of my final project for Uni in this next academic year, but it is something I strive to achieve. It also raises some interesting questions... is it really there? Can it be seen and understood by people who don't know the subject, but through the shear power of the image can gain an insight into the very being of the subject.... or is it just an expression of what the photographer is trying to say???

All very interesting but these for me are questions that only you as an individual can answer for yourselves... I don't think there is a right or a wrong answer.

Test Shoot
Okay so last week I enlisted my ever suffering daughter to model for me. There were a number of reasons for this, the first and less important is that its was my first shoot in the new studio. I discovered that its a light hungry room as opposed to my dining room which is the opposite. The second reason was to explore some alternative poses, to build on what I had previously done.

I shot these on a 5D mkII, unfortunately I'm low on film so seemed the best option with a two light set up. Also I chose to step away from my normal techniques of textures and decided to just play about a bit to see what the over all effect was. I suppose its a much more typical modelling shoot, but I like the effect and seeing as I'm still so early on with the project there is plenty of room for experimentation.

So here's the images:

From these four images I will shoot again this time on 5x4 and see what I get.... so watch this space.

More Experimentation

Okay, so I decided to also look at what i already had. I decided to instead of using textures and some other techniques to create a painterly feel I would just had colour the image and see what effect it had... here are the results:

This is the original image with the original finish.

This is a 50/50 mix of the old image and new image.

This is the newly re-edited image... completely different technique, simply digitally re-coloured from B&W (one day I might be able to afford coloured film ha ha)

Well from a B&W original image I like all three effects. To be honest I'm not sure which to go with, I like all three. I think the last image looks harsher, but seems to have more clarity with the second image being a good combination of the best elements of both... I still really like the first...

Oh well its still early on enough in the project to not make a decision yet, I also need to carry on trying new things and see where I get to.

*Don't forget you can follow me on facebook to see what I'm up to day to:

Wednesday, 25 April 2012


Well its been a couple of weeks since I've had opportunity to post, but I've not been idle... University has been eating my time, I'm too old for this. Anyway, last hand in and presentation on Tuesday then that's it for this year. So glad now that i did my final year split over 2... means I have more time for my stuff... honest.

I thought I would share these three images which are being exhibited at the moment in Eccles Community Art Gallery. Its part of a group exhibition called 'Identity' and is part of the work produced by the Shroom Collective. 

Shroom started out as a group of friends from Mid-Cheshire college, we all share a vision and willingness to improve our photography as well as promoting community involvement. The brief we set ourselves was to photography something about identity which breaks the prejudice and pre-conceptions of how someone looks physically and other stero-typical assumptions. Rather than working together we all went away and worked independently... it was a risk but has ended up with a lot of very different work that ties together really well. 

I think for me the most interesting part was how we all look at different subject matter and took completely different approaches. Which brings us to my own work.

For this I decided to look at objects which we cherish and hold dear, those personal things that we would take to a desert island with us if we could only take a couple of things. But for me these items tell a story about their owner that isn't necessarily apparent if you just met them. Some have intermit stories, others state facts... here's the images:

I think for me what was really interesting is that I am primarily a portraitist, but with these images I've focused on the object, so I suppose they are still life's. I haven't completely broken the mould as there is a person in the background of each, but they are of lesser importance.

Anyway, enjoy! The exhibition is running and open over the next three saturdays so if your in Eccles pop in and meet the Shroom Collect, or even better... me!

Thursday, 5 April 2012


Well its been a few weeks since my last blog, between family life, Uni and commissions things have been a bit busy. But during the maelstrom of activity I have managed to take some time and do a shoot using my favourite camera, my wista 5x4 field camera.

The shoot was basically an alternative approach to 'From The Shadows' digital images from my last blog. I think sometimes you have to try lots of things before you find exactly the look you want and even what you are trying to say. So shooting 5x4 on B&W film was quite a step away from shooting on my 5D mkII.

I think also that the aim of the project is starting the develop more as well. The aim is to capture that time we've all gone through during adolescents in which we change probably more than we ever will again, from a child to eventually emerging as an adult... our character fully developed (my wife may disagree were I'm concerned ha ha). I think I'm interested in the neuro-plasticity, the way as a teen we create new pathways, new character traits only to brush them away and try something new until in our early 20's we finally settle on who we are.

Anyway here's two examples of the 5x4 images, its been nice to do some personal projects... feels like forever since I did, happy days:

The images were shots on Ilford Delta 100 B&W film with one light using a snoot. I then added texture as well as hand colour tinting the images. The aim as the new name of the project is to symbolise the moments when you see hints of the person the teen will become.

I'm thinking that I will narrow the age from 10-21 to 15 to 21 for the project. The next step will be to take the shoot out into different environments... 

I really can't decide on whether or not to go with the 5x4 film look or the digital look from the previous post.... any help or suggestions are welcome!

Monday, 20 February 2012

From The Shadows

Well it feels like forever since I last posted, a mix of taking some time out, university work getting heavy for a while and some success which seem to be gaining a momentum all of its own. But first I think I'll show you the images from the very first shoot of a new project.

From The Shadows (working title)

I started on this last week, I seem to have been doing everything over the last 6 months to do with photography but had very little time to actually start a new project... anyway I'm setting that right.

The premiss of this body of work is to depict the discovery of something new in or about someone we thought we knew. I think we fall into an idea of what someone is and then are amazed when we find something out about them that we just never thought possible or even conceived of...

My children very kindly volunteered for this shoot, I plan on taking it out of the studio and moving into locations and using flash heads to create a similar effect with a good mix of different models. While the effect is still a little rough it gives me a really good starting point although to be honest I can pretty much guarantee that the final images will be very different... but I'll keep you informed and up to date with more regular posts.


Wow the last 6 months in particular this month has been mental. Following on from my publication in Eyemazing magazine Winter Edition 2011, I was quickly picked up by PH Magazine and F-Stop Magazine (I'll give links in a bit). I then found out one of my images was selected for exhibition in Sample 12 by the Print Space in London (still running if you want to see it), quickly followed up by an exhibition in Liverpool at the WCS called 'Fixation' in which I have two bodies of work (again still running). I've also had a number of blogs publish me and my work... To be honest I have been completely overwhelmed by my success and I am so grateful, I love being a photographer/artist.

Anyway, check out the articles etc:

Minute by Minute:


Altered Realities:

I'm also represented by Eyemazing Editions:

Don't forget you can see my portfolio and projects at: