Hello 2016 !

Thank you to all followers at explorenation.net and Facebook friends. Let’s hope we all continue to make new and exciting photographs in 2016, wherever we are, ’til we meet face to face once again, surely we will.

Have a good one!

Steven

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What does photography mean to you?

I am starting a response thread on Facebook here with the above question, to which I am posing to all my photographer friends, contacts and acquaintances and those that are involved in the imaging, curatorial and journalism disciplines. We now begin a new year soon, and the flood of images that are being shared on social media and the rest of the internet, no less,  in printed publications, television and commercials continue to saturate our collective minds on a daily basis.

This wild statistic is mind-boggling!

If you printed off the 21.9 billion photos uploaded to Instagram
in a year, it would reach 6,351 kilometres.
That’s a whole lot of selfies!

[Check it out here https://photoworld.com/photos-on-the-web/]

So, in search for more clarity, I would love to learn about your thoughts on photography, to you personally, either a consumer of images, or perhaps as a creator.

What is it about photography that makes you tick, go weak in the knees, perhaps break out in a cold sweat, or just feel chilled. Perhaps it isn’t a tangible thing, like cradling a vintage camera and hearing the moving gears within as you cock its shutter. Could it be the amazing deep blacks from a fine silver gelatin print that moves you to tears, or the heady smell of developer and fixers  fumes wafting through your makeshift darkroom?

Maybe you like to collect photo books and smell the new pages as you sample its contents. You may be into gear fetish, always acquiring new equipment as soon as they hit the stores, or a pixel peeper, demanding to view everything on your giant 25 inch screen at 100%. You could be in love with Photoshop and like to tweak every possible parameter to create your masterpieces in your darkened room, perhaps?

I would also like to know what is the most significant photograph you have ever taken and why.  This does not have to be a masterpiece, a good image, or even a memorable image.  Just an image that has played an important role in your photographic journey, or made an impression to others along the way? Please do share.

I will run this thread for a few months and hope by the end of it, we could have a collection of  interesting writing, photographs and viewpoints to share but I will need your honest involvement and response.

Cheers!

Best wishes for 2016…

Steven

 

Absence of silence

Day 6 -Haste Ye Back! The slogan greets us on a road sign as we drive out of Brora on the A9, heading South and back into England. First, the long drive towards Inverness, Perth and then Stirling, by-passing Glasgow over into Carlisle on the M74. The scenery is spectacular, as you can imagine. Hills, valleys, meandering rivers and streams, snow-capped mountains, sheep and cattle. We had brilliant sunshine, rain, sleet and snow all within a few minutes of leaving. That is the weather in the Highlands in winter time, according to the locals we met, ah, nothing to worry about.

I leave Scotland with a heavy heart, with the Paris attacks fresh in my mind as we watched it unfold on live tv on Friday evening last. Had I not planned this Scottish road trip, I would have gone to Paris Photo this very same weekend, as did several of my photography friends. Thank God they are all safe.

Photographically, I didn’t shoot much on this 1,500-mile road trip, save to say the weather foiled many attempts at trying, what with Storm Abigail blowing 90mph winds on the Days 2 and 3 whilst we sat out the Amber warning. Cameras and horizontal rain do not get along well.

 

St Elmo’s fire

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Dornoch Sands, dusk.

DAY 4 /5 It has been raining constantly the whole day, the sort of rain that seems like mist, because of the fine droplets mixed in gusts of wind. Even the high-speed setting on the wiper blades can’t seem to offer a clear view. We spent the day walking on the local beaches, with the dog, and slowly getting drenched by the misty rain. Brora has a sandy beach but strewn with washed up clumps of dark blue seaweed. Later, we drove further south to Embo to catch some harbour seals. A stretch on Loch Fleet is known to hosts seals, depending on the tide. Luck has it and I only saw two, swimming close but weren’t basking as it was high tide.

We head back to England tomorrow, with a long drive ahead.

Under leaden skies

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Day 3 – After the awful event in Paris last night, a city so close and familiar to me, I couldn’t really sleep, but managed to get a few hours rest from watching the streaming breaking news on TV. We had a 4 hour drive the next morning, which was today, 14th November.  Leaving the West coast and crossing the Highlands down to Brora on the East coast, under leaden skies. It had been raining and sleeting non-stop the whole night, and the clouds are low and menacing.

There is a light dusting of snow on the mountain peaks above 500m and the temperature is hovering around 5C. So no ice. More particularly, no black ice. The A832 to A835 route across from Poolewe to Lairg via Ullapool is spectacular. We practically encounter no other motorists for at least 50 miles on this route. Amazingly raw landscapes of valleys, and mountains, rivers, streams, waterfalls, sheep and huge black cattle. Boggy heather knolls and dark grey granite crags.  Just hoping the car not breaking down or the tyres getting a puncture.

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Minor Earth, Major Sky

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Day 2, and Storm Abigail is upon us. High winds and squally showers, mixed with sleet and driving rain was the order of the day. Some snow settled on higher ground. Shot this amazing storm cloud as it approached Loch Ewe, which opens out to the North Sea.

I did little photographing today as it was raining pretty much the entire day, and went in search for food. However, as it is out of season for now, many establishments are closed. We did locate a real hippie joint in Gairloch called the Happy Mountain Coffee cafe, which served deliciously hot and creamy potato and spring onion soup with crusty seedy bread.

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Tomorrow, we head east.

The Lone Tree

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Lone tree, road to Shieldag on the A896, Western Highlands, Scotland. Taking a week to tour the NorthCoast500 route around the Scottish Highlands. Day 1 on the route and Abigail, the first storm of the season is battering the North Scotland, right where we are with 90mph winds, rain and snow forecasted for the next 24hours. The winds are howling through the gaps of the window of our hotel in Poolewe, holed up here for to sit out the Amber warning. We will have to change our itinerary. The scenery is astounding. More later.

Occupied Pleasures by Tanya Habjouqa

Christmas came early!

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Any day now.

Today, November 8th.

Phone rang, postman delivered.

I was hoping and expecting to receive my copy of Tanya Habjouqa’s amazing book called Occupied Pleasures, a collection of candid photographs of Palestine and it’s people, which was funded through Kickstarter, which had a planned release date in November 2015. Like an eager kid, I opened the package sent by FotoEvidence from Sofia, and voila here it is!

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“Each image avows aliveness and desolation” – Foreword by Nathalie Handal

Every photo is so well taken and composed, and the colour is simply mesmerizing. I seldom buy photobooks nowadays, simply because I have no more bookshelf space, and also the costs of the ones I like to collect. Another reason is that I also like trees. Once in a while, however, comes a publication worth supporting and this is one.

Tanya Habjouqa

Videohttp://www.tanyahabjouqa.com/page1

Man and dog in fog

Once in awhile, we get a foggy day in London.  This used to be far worse in the 1950s apparently, days and weeks of fog and smog, also known as ‘peasoup’ caused by the dirty coal fires and uncontrolled industrial emissions. London air is now a lot cleaner with European guidelines enforced strictly. With vehicle CO2 emissions falling year on year, and Congestion Charging to limit daytime vehicular access in the city.