Just a quick post to get back into the swing of things. I’ve had a busy month getting a couple of projects off the ground, on in particular has been adding to and organising the ebooks I produce. With a little bit of head scratching and midnight oil burning I’ve managed to produce twelve titles, not in one month obviously but reaching number twelve feels like a bit of a personal milestone.
I’m now starting to feel comfortable with the format and more importantly confident in the style and content of the books.though as always, at the back of my mind is the thought that I don’t want to get over confident and just bang out books in a production line with no thought as to the idea behind them. if I expect people to look at them they have to have a decent theme and a degree of style and continuity.
I don’t intend to step back from book production, I really enjoy the challenge of putting them together, print on demand will be the next step, which means more head scratching and midnight oil burning over a different set of production techniques.
All of the above though has meant that the blogging has become a whole lot more sporadic than it was before so a bit more personal organizing will have to be brought into play.
FLEETWOOD. The Marine Hall
Right, blog entry over for now, the next one is beginning to come together out of a pile of scribbled notes.
Lachlan’s e-book bookshelf
To quote some ELO lyrics ‘Rain is falling’ so on these occasions I like to work on my studio techniques, being more of a landscape photographer I’m guilty of neglecting this discipline. I have a small computer table which I have fitted out as a small studio set that I can dress in a variety of ways, I have fixed an old projector screen to the back of it and this forms a useful infinity background for those shots when I want to isolate the subject, also it’s just about big enough to accommodate a few bigger props on it.
Also, the table being on wheels it means I can take advantage of a one of my house’s south facing windows and the natural light coming through it, the table can be turned to give me a choice of lighting and shadow mixes and of course the overcast days provide a beautifully soft light that can make a subject glow.
The above shot was put together one morning while waiting for the rain to stop. The chair is my office swivel chair, the Jack Daniels was a gift ( now empty so I can’t share, sorry ), the jeans are a pair that occasionally fit me if I breathe in really hard and the boots are one of a few pairs I have had over the years. No one is wearing the boots, the shafts of the boots kept the legs of the jeans in place as I experimented with various placings and angles. I took about twenty shots, even though I have been digital quite a while the 24 shot 35mm diktat still lingers somewhere at the back of my head.
Some of the images immediately suffered the fell hand of the DELETE button, while others have lived on in the ‘ummm’ think about it file. The above image is one that I was pleased with from the off, again back to the land of film, I still try and compose as much as possible ‘in the camera’ , as I find it saves me needless faffing about further down the editing chain. If memory serves, I used a version of this in an ebook I produced but don’t quote me on that. Thanks to the UK’s delightful weather system I had built up a collection of studio images so I thought I would put together a book with a single image strand, I seem to have owned more cowboy boots than I thought.
a book of boots
Which is what the guy in the header shot was. It was taken in Warrington a little while ago, I had travelled in one Sunday to meet up with friends for coffee, cake and gossip and of course one of my cameras came along for the ride. Coffee etc done I was making my way back to the car when I passed this gentleman sat on one of the granite benches that are a feature of the main shopping area. This area was heavily revamped some time ago with a series of fountains and other architectural features, spotlit colonnades, columns etc. He was sat in a pose of quiet contemplation and seemed completely at ease with the world around and his whole ensemble of stylish hat, denim jacket, rolled up jeans and well worn army boots were just too good an image to miss. I did contemplate trying to grab an image on the sly but the set was just too good to risk spoiling with an inferior shot. So I approached and asked if He minded me taking a shot, and with the bare minimum off effort he agreed with a quiet ‘If you must’. Which was a pleasant change to the omnipresent offer for your camera to go somewhere anatomically tricky. So thanks again and hats off to the cool guy.
I like candids and street photography and I always try and take a few when I am out and about. The puzzle is always do you you move through the crowds and take on the move or take up a strategic position and let the crowds pass you or do a combination of both. I know that Henri Cartier Bresson is claimed the king of candids but I have a great liking for the images of Eugene Atget which are ‘of the street’ and feature very few people. The detail in them is superb but then he was using a plate camera as opposed to 35mm. Atget concentrates on architectural detail and was recording Paris at a time of great redevelopments so a lot of what he captured has now disappeared.
This chimes with another photographer whose work I really like, the Newcastle upon Tyne based Jimmy Forsyth who recorded the changes in and around the city during the upheavals of the T. Dan Smith era when great swathes of terraced housing and other links with the city’s past were swept away. Forsyth was self taught and had suffered an injury which cost him most of the sight in one eye and to earn a little extra money he also took photographs of the people around him and these images also play their part as a social record. In some instances these Forsyth photographs would be the only pictures that a family would have of themselves, owning a camera being an out of reach luxury. So thanks to his efforts , someone’s party dress, new jacket, Christmas cowboy outfit along with the corner shop, visit to the market and the local bus have all been preserved. These things are sometimes written off as the ephemera of life but they are missed when they are gone and as families fragment more these bygone images serve in the place of the oral tradition of tales being passed down from generation to generation.
Rain is falling so no excuse not to make some more progress with the projects I have in hand. The image above was taken on a trip out to nearby Southport, a resort on the Lancashire coast not too far outside of Liverpool. It has a slightly faded gentility these days but that’s not to say it’s shabby. The shot is of the interior of what had been a great second hand book shop on the balcony level in the Wayfarer’s Arcade on Lord Street, it had been full of floor to ceiling shelves crammed with every sort of literary temptation with stacks of cheaper books outside. I always remember the piles of National Geographic magazines etc. So anyway as the way with these things it closed and within a short space of time the shop was emptied with only the two chairs left in it. In the dull half light of a cloudy day it had quite a poignant atmosphere and by now the shop looked too small to have ever contained all the books. Apart from the two chairs the only other reminders being the marks in the carpets where the shelves had once stood.
Southport also has one of those offbeat claims to fame that I like. The future French Emperor, Napoleon III nephew of the Great Napoleon, spent some of his exile in the area and was taken with the stately presence of the town’s Lord Street, the wide, main shopping thoroughfare which is lined on one side with glazed canopies over the pavements. It is thought that on his return to France and the Imperial throne he decided that the cramped medieval centre of Paris should be swept away and in it’s way there should be the wide boulevards a la Southport.
Of my projects, my list of titles is growing steadily, there’s two making their way through the jumble that I like to think of as my ‘system’ . One is a book of B+W gothic images, the other a reformatting of an existing eb0ok into print on demand format, this second being the Five Cities book of B+W images of five UK cities. While I like all aspects of photography I do feel that for this type of image only black and white will give the proper timelessness. As I normally have the attention span of an over excited goldfish it’s a pleasant change to be able to sit and focus on image qualities, tones and layouts, a far cry from a previous existence working in the crash bang heat and noise of the catering industry. I’ve timetabled them to be ready for January ’16 but if the weather dips any further that date could move forward. I don’t see the point in going out to get wet to find out if it’s raining, I’ll just look out of the window and put some more logs on the fire.
While I’m pleased with the nine titles I currently have available I know that there will always be room for some refinements. I’ve put together the beginnings of two serial publications with books of railway images and a second strand with a book of the more unusual image, the ones that catch your eye because they just have some odd quality, a street name or quirky architectural detail. I find this is helpful with the editing process when I’m looking through my photo files for material to publish and of course when I’m out and about with the camera, it is also making me less fanatical about finding that mythical ‘Perfect Shot’ if something has attracted me then press the shutter release and ponder about it later. That moment isn’t going to come back, I own a Fiat not a TARDIS.
Getting towards the end of the week, quite a satisfying week an image used in a magazine and quite a bit of work done on my next Kindle e-book project, hopefully that will be finished over Easter then that can go live. Then I can turn back to the rough scratch pad that passes for my ideas book. So far I have four titles on line plus the other freelancing that I do.
This is one of my B&W image books, the title says it all, I like the process of putting together a themed book of images, though I am also working on a book of short stories that hopefully be ready by Autumn. Fingers crossed on that one.
Time for coffee and then more of the digital grindstone.
(photo credit, a studio shot of my friend Shaun taken by me)