photography

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Holding on to History

By |2020-06-04T11:32:07+01:00June 4th, 2020|Categories: News|Tags: , , , |

Over the years many fantastic family photographs have been copied using the photograph copying service. The value is, of course, priceless to the family. It’s a historical document that helps connect to to the past and to understand where we come from. It can often be the case that the photograph is the only visual record of an individual or group of people. Families, servicemen and even the occasional villain have been through the scanner and digital archived.

Documenting Family

Sadly though there is a tendency to disregard family history as not that important. David Bailey in his foreword to Linda McCartney’s 1992 book ‘Sixties: Portrait of an era‘ mentioned that he told Linda to take fewer photographs of her family, including Paul MacCartney, and concentrate on other subjects. Bailey wrote on to say ‘I think I was wrong. The more pictures I take of my family confirms this’. Over the last decade, I’ve also come to realise the hugely important value of family photographs as grandparents, aunts, uncles and my mother passed away. The significance and importance of those family photographs change as soon as the person dies.

Even more important are the old images. Vintage images are part of our social and family history that are valuable visual documentation that we tend to take for granted. The photographs are in that old box full of old photographs and always have been, that is until the years start to take there toll. Many images though can reach very old age and remain in as good condition as the day they were printed. I recently came across an image that was nearly a hundred years old but was still in great condition.

The 20×16 photograph was taken in 1925 and beautifully colour hand-tinted to create a pseudocolour image. In the years before colour photography became mainstream, it was a popular technique used on various types of images from portraits to landscape postcards.

Keeping the History

Often the task of copying a photograph includes removing the damage that can mount up over a long history. With the 20×16 image, the main photograph was in excellent condition. What had taken the brunt of the wear and tear was the mount that was still firmly in place. I was never going to be able to separate the photograph from the mount so decided that I could offer the client two choices – a cleaned up mount via Photoshop OR keep the wear and tear as part of the character of the whole image. Fortunately the client like the idea of keeping the copy as near to the original as possible.

Details regarding the photograph copying service can be found at https://www.richardflintphoto.com/photography-services/photograph-copying/

The Glencoe Path

By |2020-05-04T16:21:59+01:00May 4th, 2020|Categories: Blog, The Test Strip Photoblog|Tags: , , , , , , |

looking down Glencoe, Highlands of Scotland
Glencoe, 2015

The importance of staying at home is critical during this COVID-19 situation. You can’t help but think that mother nature has got a slightly cruel sense of humour though. Often Spring in the UK can be cold, wet and rather horrible, but at a time when we all have to stay in, it has so far been wonderfully bright and warm. So be it. Maybe the bright days are better than grey depressing ones during this pandemic. The outdoors can come to me,

Recent events have given me a little time to have a think about my favourite locations and the photographs produced during visits over the past few years. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting some of my favourite landscape images. I’ll delve into the roots of the photograph, how it was taken and the why the location appealed so much.

The Planned Picture

The A82 curves through Glencoe, Highlands of Scotland
Glencoe photographed in 2014

I start with my 2015 photograph of Glencoe, a landscape image that I’d wanted to make for a long time. Driving along the A82, that runs through Glencoe in the Highlands of Scotland for the first time in 2012, the scenery quite literally blew me away. It’s probably one of the best roads to drive in the UK and the mountain scenery is just stunning.

I really needed a good location for the photograph and some decent weather. Finding the place to shoot the image was relatively easy to find. I eventually came across the location by accident while stretching my legs after a long drive. The weather was always going to be the deciding factor.

Watching the patches of light and darkness quickly dancing across the mountains as the shadows from clouds wept over the mountain tops was just magical. Almost spiritual. I felt at home amongst those mountains. All I needed to do was to do some justice to the landscape with a camera.

Mention Glencoe and the story of the massacre soon comes into the conversation. Over the years the story of billeted British troops killing their hosts the MacDonalds in 1692 have equally horrified and fascinated people. History and myth can, however, become entwined so tightly that fact and fiction start to blur. Part of the fun of reading Scottish history is trying to untangle the actual history from myth. Glencoe continues to feed the imagination of visitors and the massacre just adds to the atmosphere.

An excellent overview of the events can be found via the BBC’s ‘In Our Time’ podcast from 2010 where the massacre was discussed in some detail by a panel of historians. The podcast can be downloaded at https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00pxrr7

Along the Path

The path seen in the photograph heads up the side of the mountain and is a route I’d like to explore further in future. I liked the idea of having some depth to the image and the pathway was perfect. The viewer feels like they are on the path, walking the route. It also guides the viewer through the picture.

The path is located not far from the main Glencoe ‘viewpoint’ car park but doesn’t seem to attract the anywhere near the numbers of people you’d expect. The reason may be the walk involved rather than getting the easy view from a car. In previous years the visit to Glencoe was just a brief rest stop on the way to Skye so my time was limited as I needed to carry on driving for a further two or three hours.

In 2015 I was staying just down the road for a night in an effort to break the journey up to Skye. I’d found that driving the whole distance up to Skye from Newcastle was perfectly doable but you ended up being worn out for the first couple of days after arrival. An overnight stay along the route made all the difference!

A Gap in the Clouds

The weather was always going to be a factor for getting the photograph. Ironically the day the image was taken the weather on the journey up through the highlands was very wet and dull. The chance to photograph Glencoe looked highly unlikely. However, while crossing Rannoch Moor things initially looked bleak but then started to brighten upl. A gap in the clouds suddenly appeared, the rain stopped and by the time the car had reached the parking place the day was significantly brighter.

iPhone cover available from RedBubble

The picture didn’t need blue skies and fluffy clouds, in fact, I prefer the more dramatic sweep of clouds. There is still a threat of rain in those clouds. A hint of menace. Maybe some of that Glencoe appeal comes from the sense of menace in the landscape. The massacre history just adds an extra layer to that dramatic landscape. There is also an impression that not much has changed in the landscape as the years have gone by. The place is almost timeless – once you get away from the road. Sometimes you do expect to see a party of Redcoats come along the mountain path pursuing MacDonalds through the Glen.

The Glencoe Print

There have been two versions of the print. The current version is a brighter image with better colour saturation than the first print. While the first print did look great, I came to realise that the image was too subdued. It was also too dark in tone. The lush green landscape of Glencoe was being stifled.

One surprising success for the photo is as a phone case. Many people seem to love the depth to the image and the central area of the photograph fitting in neatly on the back of an iPhone or Android phone case. For phone and iPad cases and 63 other Glencoe items including t-shirts, mugs, postcards, throw pillows and framed prints CLICK HERE

Check out the RedBubble store for more prints and items at https://www.redbubble.com/people/richflintphoto/shop

Challenging Times

By |2020-04-19T13:49:59+01:00April 19th, 2020|Categories: News|Tags: , , , , , , |

seagulls fly in front of the huge sea defence wall at Sheringham in Norfolk, UK
Sheringham Sea Defence Wall, 2007

The last few weeks have seen massive changes in the way that we live and go about our lives. Day to day things that we take for granted suddenly gain importance that we tend to take for granted. A walk in the park with the dog now takes on a new importance that it previously lacked. Hopefully, we all might be able to appreciate the smaller things more when the COVID-19 situation is finally resolved.

Funny how small things are regarded as small until they start missing from our lives.

The photograph copying, retouching and repair service is still open for business due to its built-in social distancing. Orders via digital delivery or postal delivery are still being accepted. Many of the other photography services are, however, on hold until the situation improves. Enquiries and job queries are, as usual, always welcome and can be sent to [email protected]

Daily Instagram Updates

The Instagram account has seen quite a bit of activity over the last couple of weeks with a new photograph being posted every day or so. Currently, the theme is Islay with new and previously unseen images from September 2019 getting a remix. Over the coming weeks, the theme will also include photography from some old ‘classic’ projects that I’ll talk about and provide some background.

The final part of the Instagram updates is the daily ‘stories’ update that features an image from the walk I take with Luna each day along a path next to the River Derwent. The river acts as the border between County Durham and Northumberland. It’s a bit of a photo challenge and fun… plus Luna sometimes provides some creative input 🙂

From the Archive: Mud, Rain and Motorsport

By |2020-03-05T14:50:50+00:00February 28th, 2020|Categories: Blog, The Test Strip Photoblog|Tags: , , , , , |

From the archive returns with a photograph taken during the British Rally Championships in the late 1990s. The image has always been a favourite of mine but my relationship with it has always been a little complicated. It was from a project that was challenging, often wet and very muddy at times, and a good series of images of the rally scene during the late 1990s. Having said that, it was removed from the portfolio section ten years ago. Why?

The Photograph

This months photograph was shot in during the rally of Cumbria on a rainy and muddy stage during the 1998 British Rally Championship. Two teams dominated with Renault and SEAT fighting for the drivers and manufacturers championships. In the end, Renault won the drivers and SEAT took home the manufacturers later that year. No one really came close to both of those teams during the stages (apart from VW with two cars but they suffered from reliability issues) in regard to team size as well as performance. Early into the project, I had an idea for a photograph using slow shutter speeds combined with flash via slow sync flash. The camera was set to around 1/15th second and the flash froze some of the action. Blur and detail. Movement and energy. The key elements of motorsport, that’s want I wanted to capture in a photograph. With this photograph, I think I got pretty damn close.

The car was close. The photograph was shot with a 28mm lens on a tight corner where the momentum of the car was heading away from me. The flash came from my classic Vivitar 283, an outstanding flashgun which is still going strong. The circumstances were right for flash photography. The light was poor by this time due to the increasingly poor weather conditions. This was the final project I would shoot with Pentax cameras. The cameras, like me at the time, were starting to become a little worn out and on the rally of Cumbria, I began having intermittent frame advance issues with shots overlapping on the film. Just occasionally, but happening enough to realise that a camera was on its way out. Fortunately, I had a backup or two with me.

British Rally Championship 1998

This archive photograph comes from a photo project shot during two rounds of the 1998 British Rally Championship in Wales and Cumbria. Initially, the idea was to embed with a rally team and photograph the event from their point of view. Getting permission to access a team turned out to be impossible. Numerous phone calls were made but I never got past the secretarial defensive screen or even the chance to talk to a PR officer. Nothing. Totally blocked. I needed to come up with an alternative option. I can see now the reasons for not wanting to give access, after all, I could have been spying for another team, but at the time it felt unfair. It seemed simple at the time but really I went for a very complicated option that required so much work even before the photography started.

Plan B was the only other route. I was to cover the event as part of the media and this was the path I had to go down. There were no other options available. Press accreditation was gained and I was able to get the access to service areas that I needed. There were also other issues to consider. Getting to the rallies would be a logistical juggling act in its own right due to location and the speed at which the rally moved around. The previous motorsport event I’d photographed was speedway – a wonderfully close kind of sport that just requires trackside access. Rallying offers that close proximity to the action too but the geographical issues are huge. Just getting trackside can be difficult as often the locations are remote and spread out over a wide area. Following a rally is not easy!

Mud and Rain

Just reaching a rally location can be an ordeal in itself not to mention the weather. Cumbria delivered classic rallying weather with rain and dark clouds adding to the drama. It was great fun to photograph. Rallying is a colourful and passionately followed sport with fan braving all kinds of hardship just to see the competitors speed through a stage. As a spectator sport, there is probably none better. You just stand next to the track or road they are racing on. No spectator stands or fences in the way. It’s the perfect environment for the photographer wanting to get close to the action. All of the senses can take in the atmosphere too, from the bright colours and energy of the car, the terrific sound of the engines and popping exhausts through to the smell of oil and engine fumes. Petrolhead heaven!

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Looking back I would have probably concentrated more of the fans than the event. The fans were as colourful and passionate about the sport as football fans are, though without a lot of the tribalism that goes with supporting a football team. Concentrating on the fans would have been far less challenging than trying to cover two rounds of a rally single-handed! I can see it now. Head and shoulder portraits shot on my Bronica medium format camera capturing the diverse and colourful persona of the late 20th-century rally fan. A great idea… shame it’s twenty-two years too late! Another alternative surfaced during the rally. The British Army had a Land Rover rally team that would have been great to document – especially as it was their last year of racing due to budget cuts. Sadly I only found out after talking to some Army lads in the pit area. All too late.

Tainted Love

Of all the projects I’ve completed the photography shot during in the British Rally Championship remains the one that still doesn’t quite sit right with me. Oddly I don’t really know why. It could be due to my near burnt-out state of the time. Maybe I just still associate the images with that period in my life. Alternatively, there was something about the project that I felt didn’t quite gel. Right from the start compromises had to be made due to a lack of team access. This changed the focus of the project right from the go. Later the sheer logistics of getting from stage to stage would also play its part. Was the subject matter just too broad that I’d had never been able to document it adequately? Maybe. Narrowing down the photography may have improved things. Who knows?

A full gallery of rally images hasn’t been seen on the website in over ten years and wasn’t even considered for addition to the site when I moved over to a WordPress powered website in 2011. I didn’t want anyone to see the photography. I’ve slowly come around to the photographs again though the project itself still doesn’t sit very well with me. In recent years I’ve had similar issues with other photographs but for very different reasons.

The project that got away? A failure? No, not quite, but it didn’t totally succeed either. Maybe that is the issue. You can’t win them all though. It might actually be worth going through the photo edit process again as I have with previous projects. See if I missed anything. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to consider adding at least some of the photographs to the portfolio section again. Time to come to terms with the flaws.

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