Earth, Water, Fire and Air …

No, not the 70’s soul/funk band (!) but the four elements that are said to make up our world. I’ve been revisiting my travel photography recently, to immerse myself again in the trips I’ve taken and to rethink what I’ve captured and why. I head to South America later this year and hope to implement more of what I’ve learned on my recent trips with amazing photographers like Ewen Bell, Jamie Rose and Steve Davey.

                 fire-icon       earth-icon       water-icon       air-icon

Yesterday, a perfectly timed “Thomas Cook Explore the Elements Photoblogger Competition” dropped into my inbox; a vehicle to explore what I’ve already seen but looking for new stories in the images. Perfect!

Or so I thought … the reality of choosing from a variety of images, thinking carefully of the remit (which requires the images to  creatively illustrate the themes) and selecting my favourites is extremely difficult. My main discoveries were that almost every image captured more than one of the elements, that the four are inextricably linked and deciding which represents the element most powerfully is very difficult. Not only that, I couldn’t decide whether to be literal (my default approach unfortunately) or more oblique in my choices … representing the fluidity of water can be done is more ways than showing a fast flowing river.

My dilemma however was a pleasure. I’m looking more deeply into my images, sensing new and alternative messages in them and it is extremely rewarding. Irrespective of the competition I feel enriched. (That’s not to say that a prize wouldn’t be lovely …)

Here are the four I’ve chosen to represent each element, see what you think.

Nepal - October-November 2013.

Earth: Represents the hard, solid objects of the earth. Associated with stubbornness, collectiveness , physicality and gravity. (Or could it be Air, the freedom of movement and compassion of the prayer flags?) Muktinath, Nepal

Water: Represents the fluid, flowing, formless things in the world. Associated with emotion, defensiveness, adaptability, flexibility, suppleness, and magnetism. Children reach their six-month birthday and are initiated into the holy waters at Tirta Empul, Bali.

Water: Represents the fluid, flowing, formless things in the world. Associated with emotion, defensiveness, adaptability, flexibility, suppleness, and magnetism. When children reach their six-month birthday, they are initiated into the holy waters at the Buddhist Tirta Empul, Bali.

Fire: Represents the energetic, forceful, moving things in the world. Associated with security, motivation, desire, intention, and an outgoing spirit. Funeral Pyre at Pashupatinath Temple, Khatmandu, Nepal.

Fire: Represents the energetic, forceful, moving things in the world. Associated with security, motivation, desire, intention, and an outgoing spirit. Funeral Pyre at Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Air: Represents things that grow, expand, and enjoy freedom of movement. Associated with will, elusiveness, evasiveness, benevolence, compassion, and wisdom. (The release of tens of thousands of lanterns could just as easily represent, Earth and Air. It is an astonishing sight as wishes are tranported into the sky by the flames of the lanterns.) Yi Peng, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Air: Represents things that grow, expand, and enjoy freedom of movement. Associated with will, elusiveness, evasiveness, benevolence, compassion, and wisdom. (The release of tens of thousands of lanterns could just as easily represent, Earth and Fire. It is an astonishing sight as wishes are transported into the sky by the flames of the lanterns.) Yi Peng Festival, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The competition ends on 16th March so my fellow photobloggers have time to enter, why not have a go:

Natalie: nataliebanton.wordpress.com

Stephen: stephencotterell.com

Cat: cateasterbrook.com

Noor: touchofinsanity.wordpress.com

Steve: stevemcdonaldphotography.wordpress.com

Trains, textures and talent …

Graham, Robin, Linda, Matt and the other re-enactors at Didcot really made the day come alive.

blog4Blog 8blog 9 Blog 7blog 10

Train spotting …

This weekend I joined a “Train to Print” workshop at Didcot Railway Centre run by Permajet Print Academy partnering with Timeline Events. Steam engines, “forties re-enactors” and rail and photo enthusiasts made for an interesting couple of days. The guys and gals who enjoy bringing us the past were mainly passionate volunteers who created an authentic experience … despite the many orange hi-vis jackets around! A working steam line can be extremely dangerous and our safety briefing was to the point yet we had a lot of freedom to roam. Even the oily workshops and cracked paint on old engines were photogenic.

Blog 2Blog 1didcot railway centre didcot railway centre didcot railway centre

The Little Chair is back!

A quiet few weeks photography-wise has led me into the backlog of images in my Lightroom Catalog. Images I’ve either previously processed and want to change or the many neglected images I didn’t have time to deal with. There are rather a lot of those, mainly because I am very bad at editing my images. (I’m trying to improve, really!)

I revisited my Little Chair Project, developed on my Cape Town trip with Momenta Workshops and created a selection of the images in B&W. The gist of the work involved having staff and local children pose for me with a small chair … a fun concept but for me it came to embody the mission of James House. It’s a nonprofit organisation providing a variety of community services to nearby Imizamo Yutha and Hangberg where poverty and unemployment can result in the breakdown of families and problems with drink, drugs and gang violence.

I am delighted that many of the images I offered to James House appear on their website and in the 2013 annual report.

litle chair 3 Little Chair 2 Little Chair 1 little chair 4 little chair 5

A New Year Wedding at Coworth Park

I was privileged to photograph a beautiful wedding on 31st December 2014, a wonderful way to end the year. It was held at Coworth Park in Ascot, a stunning venue for a winter wedding. The event was small and private so I’m sharing only a few of the images of one of the happiest weddings I’ve attended. Everyone smiled all day; Julie, Andrew and their guests were delightful to work with and the weather was lovely. I was lucky enough to be at the New Year Party in the evening … still with camera in hand (of course!!) as a guest with my partner, both of us able to enjoy ourselves till well after the “bells”. I’m not a wedding blogger (as I think you can tell!) but I do enjoy sharing my images, especially when making them has been so much fun.

Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014

Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014

Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014

Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014

Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014

Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014

Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014

Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014

 

Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014

Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014

Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014 Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014 Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014 Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014 Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014 Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014 Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014 Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014 Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014 Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014 Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014 Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014 Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014 Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014 Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014 Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014 Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014 Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014 Andrew & Julie Donaldson Wedding, 31st Dec 2014

Umbria … a gastronomic and visual delight!

Visiting Umbria, a region that’s said to be “Tuscany’s little brother”, was a visually and gastronomically delightful experience. Fragrant truffles, delicious handmade cheeses and fabulous wines were some of the treats we enjoyed. Orvieto and Perugia were our bases and from there we travelled to hilltop villages like Terni, Todi and Gobbio, drove east to the plains of Castelluccio and enjoyed the views over lake Trasimeno._MG_7521 _MG_7524 _MG_7558 _MG_7561 _MG_7602 _MG_7624 _MG_7635 _MG_7647 _MG_7649 _MG_7670 _MG_7676 _MG_7712 _MG_7726 _MG_7744 _MG_7759 _MG_7761 _MG_7793-Edit _MG_7822 _MG_7832 _MG_7857 _MG_7906 _MG_7982 _MG_8002 _MG_8005

Hong Kong …

I was lucky to piggy-back on my partner’s work trip to Hong Kong and as he has a few days free, we explored the island, Kowloon and the New Territories. Always looking for photographic opportunities we still managed to fit in relaxing massages and some truly wonderful meals. It’s the first time I’ve really enjoyed dumplings!

My last trip to Hong Kong was over ten years ago and the construction activity that has gone on since (and still goes on) is phenomenal. Buildings just seem to pop up everywhere and in the smallest of spaces.

Our train journey to the Ng Tung Chai Waterfalls took us through small towns and villages; I had somehow been expecting vast swathes of farmland. The falls themselves were disappointing as there was little water so in one sense it was a long journey for nothing – yet no trip into the unknown is ever a waste of time. The National Park was lovely – cool and calming and I could see why so many people spend their days-off there, picnicking and relaxing with family.

It was really hot, sticky and as ever, extremely busy and vibrant. We were there just before the protests began in earnest and although a small part of me wishes I’d been there to record the crowds of protestors at such an historic time, the rest of me was glad just to have a holiday!

_1010501

_1010517 _1010511 _1010510

_1010679 f1215744 f1316160 f1414208 f1556352 f1851520 f2203328 f2902208 f3251072 f3395328 f3496320 f3594880 f3998080 f4145088 f4195584 f4447808 f4748480 f4798336 f5527296 f6275264 f7660672 f7811008 f7911360 f8260096 f8461632 f8561536 f8609920 f8850624 _1010488 _1010495

 

Jatiluwih rice terraces

The stunning rice terraces of Bali, exemplified by those in Jatiluwih are wonderous sights. Every hue of green is visible as you look at the undulating layers of the fields. I travelled to Jatiluwih twice, once in the sunshine and the second time at dawn on an overcast day. The colour palettes were so different with the changing light. It was just before the harvest when the terraces are incredibly lush. As we travelled around Bali we came across rice harvesting in different areas and went down into the fields to watch the workers. It’s an incredibly labour intensive job and hard, physical work. We also spotted this honeymoon couple who were beautifully co-ordinated as they took self portraits throughout the terraces.Bali, May 2014

The ecologically sustainable subak system is the traditional method of farming and irrigation, deeply embedded in the Balinese culture. This co-operative water management system is presided over by priests in the water temples and emsures co-operation between villages. UNESCO has recognised the importance of this system of farming to the common heritage of humanity and subak and the rice fields have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. more information about UNESCO’s choice is here: www.whc.unesco.org

Bali, May 2014 Bali, May 2014 Bali - Day 7_223 Bali, May 2014 Bali - Day 7_236 Bali - Day 7_241 Bali - Day 7_311 Bali_Day2_May 2014_011 Bali_Day2_May 2014_021 Bali_Day2_May 2014_030 Bali_Day2_May 2014_055 Bali_Day2_May 2014_065 Bali_Day2_May 2014_430A Bali_Day2_May 2014_434 Bali_Day2_May 2014_456 Bali_Day2_May 2014_461-Edit

Uluwatu Fire Dance

Uluwata Temple on the south coast of Bali hosts daily performances of the Kekac (Fire) Dance. Mainly for tourists, the dance is a story-telling performance based on traditional tales and involves melodrama, humour and fantastic costumes. The Monkey King was particularly athletic and exciting to watch as he leapt around madly. We were extremely privileged to have “back-stage” access to watch the performers preparing and resting between scenes. I had expected them to be in a room to get ready, instead they were camped out in the concrete areas underneath the stands, sitting on the ground and balancing mirrors anywhere they could. It was fascinating to have that kind of access although it did mean I missed most of the performance – including unfortunately the pyrotecnics! Shooting at extremely high ISO settings was a challenge as the images are very noisy but not using flash captures a completely different side to the night and is considerably less intrusive for the very patient performers.

Despite the performances being a daily event, the actors attacked their roles with such energy, humour and spectacle that it seemed really fresh. Next time I’m in Bali I’m planning to attend and watch the entire show.

For the complete photostory please follow this link: Kekac Dance

Bali_Day_5_May 2014_018 Bali_Day_5_May 2014_035 Bali_Day_5_May 2014_063 Bali_Day_5_May 2014_069A Bali_Day_5_May 2014_142 Bali_Day_5_May 2014_160 Bali_Day_5_May 2014_177A Bali_Day_5_May 2014_183 Bali_Day_5_May 2014_191 Bali_Day_5_May 2014_197 Bali_Day_5_May 2014_204 Bali_Day_5_May 2014_213 Bali_Day_5_May 2014_230 Bali_Day_5_May 2014_243 Bali_Day_5_May 2014_284 Bali_Day_5_May 2014_270

Out on the fringe ….

The Brighton Photo Fringe that is!  Concurrently with the Brighton Photo Biennial (the largest photography exhibition in the UK), the Fringe runs from 4th October – 3rd November 2014. I am very excited to share the gallery with five other local photographers, Colin Miller ARPS, Audrey Marshall ARPS, Steve Boyle ARPS, Nicola Miles and Sylwia Liszak. We will be exhibiting in the brand new Artista Gallery and Studio, right in the heart of the city.

Each of us has a different style and approach but we share commitment, a personal vision and fierce independence in what we make and show. Working as a team with gallery owner Alex, we have agreed how to share the quirky exhibition space to showcase everyone’s work to its best advantage and are working on our marketing strategy together. We will be having an open Preview Evening on October 3rd, but if you can’t come then, do pop in anytime during the month for a coffee, drink or food and see “Six Photographers Under One Roof”.

I’ll bring you more news as we fine tune our plans, suffice to say it will be worth visiting!

artista